“Thinking out of the Box”- From Physiotherapy to Rehabilitation



This editorial gives the introduction to International Journal of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation. It begins with history and definition of fields like rehabilitation, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The later part also describes the journal’s objectives and review policy towards open-access publishing.

The editorial board welcomes you to the first issue of the International Journal of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation (IJPTR). Rehabilitation, in the true sense, started in 1859 when Florence Nightingale ‘allowed patients to do for themselves’ (Flannery 2005). However the term “rehabilitation” was first coined in 1918 by Douglas McMurtrie after the First World War. He did so to replace the existing terminology which was applied to victims of war, namely “reconstruction of disabled servicemen” (Flannery 2005). The word stems from the Latin “rehabilitare” meaning “to make fit again” (MedicineNet. Inc. 2009).

The rehabilitation team, headed up by the physiatrist originated around 1936, when Dr Frank Krusen coined the term “Physiatry” and wrote a textbook on rehabilitation (O’Young et al 1997). Physiatry, also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR), is a branch of medicine focusing on prevention, diagnosis and non-surgical management of disorders associated with disability and aiming to restore functional ability and quality of life to the individual (O’Young et al 1997).

Whilst the earliest forms of Physical Therapy (known in some countries as physiotherapy) were attributed to the Greek physicians of the 4th century B.C., the earliest documented origins of a professional body of Physical Therapy date back to 1813 when the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics (RCIG) was established for massage, manipulation and exercise in Sweden (Wharton 1991). In 1894, four nurses in Great Britain formed the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (Young 1969). The word “Physiotherapy” owes its origin to Dr Edward Playter (Playter 1894) when he reported in the Montreal Medical Journal as follows:


Origin of term “Physiotherapy”

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in the year 1986 defined Physical Therapy as, “the examination, treatment, and instruction of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability . . . for the purpose of reducing the incidence and severity of physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malformations and pain” (IPTA 2009).

The emergence of Occupational Therapy in the 18th century was due to the efforts of Philipe Pinel (a French physician) and William Tuke (an English quaker) and their reforms of the treatment of mentally ill patients (SPDRC 2009a). In 1976, Occupational Therapy was defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) as “the therapeutic use of work, self-care, and play activities to increase development and prevent disability. It may include adaptation of task or environment to achieve maximum independence and to enhance the quality of life” (SPDRC 2009b). The same body now defines the term as “a science-driven, evidence-based profession that enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent—or live better with—illness, injury or disability” (AOTA 2009). The changing definition underlines the development that has occurred in the profession through the years.

The origins of Speech Therapy dates back to the 19th century, with the works of John Thelwall (Rockey 1979). Until the late 20th century the profession was divided into three sections, namely: the elocution movement led by speech-correctionists, the scientific movement led by speech-experimenters and professionalism led by speech-clinicians and researchers (Duchan 2009). The evolution of speech language pathology and therapy occurred in the late 19th century and became established during the 20th century where the focus of therapy was a mechanistic view of language and its disorders. During the 21st century the focus has moved towards outcomes, quality, efficacy and standards (Means 2006).

One of the current terms in rehabilitation terminology is “allied health profession”. The term was first used in the year 2000 and is an umbrella term to describe the collective of 13 health professions of Art Therapists, Drama Therapists, Music Therapists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Orthoptists, Orthotists, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Prosthetists, Radiographers, Speech and Language Therapists (Jones 2006). The role of each individual member of the rehabilitation team is important. However the combined effect of a multidisciplinary team is amplified to provide a comprehensive, holistic approach to patient care. This important multidisciplinary impact is summarized by the words of Helen Keller (b.1880-d.1968), “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much……”

IJPTR is an international peer reviewed journal dedicated to promoting research, education and evidence-based practice in the field of therapeutic rehabilitation, especially in countries which have limited access to research literature. It covers all allied health professions, PMR and nursing. The journal covers diverse topics in musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiopulmonary, paediatric, women’s health and sports rehabilitation etc. The regular features will include original research papers, systematic and narrative reviews, case reports and case series, clinical and professional discussion papers, book reviews and letters to the editors. The target audience is any professionals involved in the rehabilitation of patients. This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

IJPTR follows a non preferential, non discriminatory policy, where all manuscripts will be considered based solely on merit irrespective of race, creed, colour, national or ethnic origin. A double blinded peer review policy is followed where the identity of authors and reviewers is not known to each other. The reviewers are chosen from a global database with diverse education and research backgrounds. The minimum criterion for a peer reviewer is to have at least one publication in a peer reviewed journal. After submission, a manuscript is first vetted by an editor. An editor can reject the paper without peer review if he/she feels 1) the paper is beyond the scope of Journal, or 2) the paper is of low quality. If the paper is suitable for publication but of low English quality, the authors will be invited to work with an English language mentor and resubmit their manuscript for further consideration. Once cleared by the Editor, the article is sent to the peer reviewers. The reviewers can then 1) accept the article without modifications, 2) request minor modifications, or 3) reject it. In case of disagreement between reviewers, the editor adjudicates between the reviewers and makes the final decision. This journal uses Open Journal Systems, which is an open source journal management and publishing software developed, supported, and freely distributed by the Public Knowledge Project (PKP 2009) under the GNU General Public License.

The words of Henry Ford (b.1863-d.1947) which form the very foundation of interdisciplinary collaboration in rehabilitation and patient care, underpin the philosophy of IJPTR: “Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success”.

Together,…we now begin to progress towards success.


AOTA (2009) American Occupational Therapy Association. http://www.aota.org/Consumers/WhatisOT.aspx, accessed 17th October 2009

Duchan JF (2009) Getting here: A short history of speech pathology in America. http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~duchan/new_history/overview.html, accessed 17th October 2009

Flannery J (2005) Rehabilitation nursing secrets. Mosby- Elsevier Health Sciences, St.Louis, Missouri, accessed online- courtesy Google books, 17th October 2009

IPTA (2009) Indian Physical Therapists’ Association. Official webpage www.indiapt.org, accessed online 18th October 2009

Jones R, Jenkins F (2006) Managing and leading in the allied health professions. Radcliffe Publishing, pp 2, accessed online- courtesy Google books

Means J (2006) The impact of IDEA 04 and NCLB on speech and language related services: How do we meet the challenges. Forum on Public Policy Online, Fall 2006 edition. http://www.forumonpublicpolicy.com/archive06/means.pdf, accessed online 22nd November 2009

MedicineNet. Inc. (2009) http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5288, accessed online 17th October 2009

O’Young B, Young MA, Stiens SA (2002) What is Physiatry? In O’Young B, Young MA, Stiens SA (2002)(eds): Physical medicine and rehabilitation secrets, Philadelphia, Hanley and Belfus, 2nd edition, pp 1-4, accessed online- courtesy Google books, 17th October 2009

PKP- Public Knowledge Project, 2009. http://pkp.sfu.ca/ (accessed 18th October 2009).

Playter E (1894) Physiotherapy first: Nature’s medicaments before drug remedies; particularly relating to hydrotherapy. Montreal medical journal; xxii: 811-827.

Rockey D (1979) John Thelwall and the origins of British speech therapy. Medical History; 23: 156-175. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082433/pdf/medhist00099-0032.pdf (accessed 22nd November 2009)

SPDRC (2009a) The Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center. http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/history-of-occupational-therapy.html (accessed 17th October 2009)

SPDRC (2009b) The Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center. http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/what-is-occupational-therapy.html (accessed 17th October 2009)

Wharton MA (1991) Health care systems I; Slippery Rock University

Young, P (1969) A short history of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy, 55(7) 271-278

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Twitter