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Physiotherapy

A patient in a military hospital using a leg exercise device, 1943.

A patient in a military hospital using a leg exercise device, 1943.

Credits:Felix Man/Picture Post/Getty Images

Physiotherapy is a physical therapy that uses massage and other treatments to help rehabilitate injuries. The British Chartered Society of Physiotherapy was formed in the late 1800s. This was one of the only ways that women could work in medicine other than being nurses. In the First World War their work consisted mainly of massage therapy. For example, they would rub the stumps of amputees to increase circulation and keep the stump healthy - although many of the soldiers complained that the physiotherapists were rubbing them too hard and hurting them!

By the late 1930s it was clear there was about to be another war and in 1938 the Massage Corps was established in Britain. During the Second World War its members were instrumental in combining with doctors to rehabilitate soldiers so they could rejoin the fighting. They also learned to use new apparatus in their job including machinery to stimulate muscles electrically.

Bibliography

J Barclay, In Good Hands: The History of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 1894-1994 (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1994)

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