Australian Physiotherapists in the First World War

TitleAustralian Physiotherapists in the First World War
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMcMeeken, Joan
JournalHealth and History
Date Published2015

The contribution of Australian men and women physiotherapists, then known as masseurs and masseuses, to rehabilitation of the unprecedented numbers of wounded and ill in the First World War has received little attention. This paper demonstrates how this nascent profession, already more comprehensively educated than those from elsewhere, developed during the war from inauspicious and challenging beginnings to a service sought by the public and medical colleagues. The physiotherapists worked in Egypt, France, and Britain, on the sea transports and in Australia. Despite being frustrated by a lack of recognition by army authorities, particularly at the beginning, they made important contributions to rehabilitation and added to their knowledge and skills. The wounded and convalescing men did not always welcome physiotherapists' ministrations, but humour provided a means of depicting their experiences.

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