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Raising the Bar in Rehab

The King's Speech

Published February 24, 2011 5:10 PM by

It isn't very often that I watch movies anymore. In college and high school, I spent hours and hours in front of the television to watch movies and memorize my favorite quotes. These days I have so many other things to get done that movie-watching tends to take a backseat. Imagine 2 whole hours of sitting on the couch! I have too many errands to do, too many dishes to do, loads of laundry to finish and floors to vacuum to justify a sedentary break.

I heard many great things about the Academy Award-nominated film, "The King's Speech," from my coworkers and decided it would be fun to watch in the theater. It was a wonderful film! I won't give too many details away, but the story is about King George of Britain during the start of World War II and the relationship with his speech therapist. I thought the film was quite powerful and well acted. The dramatic storyline was well-balanced with periods of humor.

Actually the story of King George parallels a similar story in the United States around the same time - that of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his illness with polio (although the diagnosis of polio is widely debated). Both men worked to minimize their dysfunction in the public eye. Any speech or physical deficits implied a weaker leader. This is actually an interesting concept to consider - do most people equate physical disabilities with cognitive disabilities?

Back to the movie. The part that interested me most was the speech-therapy work, as I work with many speech therapists. Since the film is based in the 1930s, many of the speech treatments were rather... ah, primitive. Seeing speech therapy depicted in the film made me wonder what physical therapy looked like years ago. I can't imagine basing my interventions on trial and error versus established standards and proven research.

It would be interesting to learn more about the personalities and education of those "founding fathers" of physical therapy. It must have required an incredible amount of faith and a lot of gut-instinct to be the first to say "Yeah, let's try stretching and strengthening to regain some function."

They say those who cannot remember the past are bound to repeat it. How much do we know about the history of physical therapy?


It has been a while since I graduated from PT school, and although I didn't know Mary McMillan personally (it just feels like I'm that old), my school did teach me about her, as well as Sister Kenny, Howard Rusk (yes, an MD, but an important rehabilitation figure), and the Bobaths.

Here's a start:

They and Mary McMillan are actually a part of the UK history of physiotherapy as well.

If you haven't been taught about them in your education, your school has been remiss for precisely the reasons you state in your post.

Happy Reading. Cheers, Dean

Dean Metz February 25, 2011 7:21 AM

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