100 years of physiotherapy in New Zealand
Media release | Physiotherapy New Zealand
7 March, 2013
This year marks 100 years of physiotherapy in New Zealand.
In 1913 the doors opened on the first School of Massage in Dunedin, paving the way for the beginning of the physiotherapy profession in New Zealand.
Today there are over 4,000 practising physiotherapists in New Zealand and the School has evolved into a School of Physiotherapy at Otago University.
Physiotherapy New Zealand President Gill Stotter says 100 years is a significant milestone of the profession and a time to look back on how much the profession has grown.
“We’ve moved from a profession concentrated singularly on massage to one with a range of specialist areas including respiratory, musculoskeletal, sport, paediatrics, women’s health and several others,” says Ms Stotter.
“World War One and the polio epidemic were two transforming influences on our profession. Survivors from the war created a need for extensive rehabilitation and in-fact in America physios were initially called Re-construction Aides! During the polio epidemic physios were called upon as an essential part of recovery with skills in exercise, massage and hydrotherapy.”
“It’s fascinating that in today’s world we now face completely new challenges. The biggest challenges no longer lie in viruses but in diseases linked to our lifestyle choices; noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are killing more than 36 million people each year.(1)”
“As a result of these new challenges our work as physios is not just to treat the patient, but to educate and prevent. There is much work to be done, particularly as our population ages, but our focus remains on promoting movement for life and exercise at any age.”
To commemorate the 100 year milestone Physiotherapy New Zealand has launched a new history website http://www.100yearsofphysio.co.nz.
The School of Physiotherapy will mark its centenary with an International Scientific Conference “PhysioForward”, 3–6 April 2013. It will feature leading international keynote speakers as well as local academics, and cover a wide range of research in key areas of health care. For more information http://physio.otago.ac.nz/centenary/default.html
Notes to editors
1. Noncommunicable diseases kill more than 36 million people each year.
Physiotherapy New Zealand
We are a national membership organization providing advocacy, information and services to more than 3,000 physiotherapists in New Zealand, www.physiotherapy.org.nz.