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TPTA's History - The Early Years
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TPTA's History


The Early Years
1921 - 1950

The profession grew out of World War I when Reconstructive Aides were sent overseas and around the United States to help soldiers recover from wounds and battle neurosis.  Reconstructive Aides were both occupational therapy and physical therapy.  These aides were civilian women who were appointed to their position by the War Department but did not have any standing with the armed services.  Physical therapy was described as consisting of hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, and mechanotherapy, active exercise, indoor and outdoor games, and massage.1 



The first professional physical therapy association was established in 1921 in New York City and was called the American Women's Physical Therapeutic Association.   The first President of the association was Mary MacMillan (1921-1923).  Their objectives as outlined in the association's constitution was2:


  • Establish and maintain a scientific standard for practitioners of physical therapy
  • Increase efficiency among Association members by encouraging advanced study
  • Disseminate information by distributing medical literature and articles of professional interest
  • Make trained aides available to the medical community
  • Sustain social fellowship and communication between aides.


In 1922 the association changed it's name to the American Physiotherapy Association (APA).  During this time some physiotherapists from Texas were members of the APA but a Texas Chapter had not been developed until 1930.


In 1921, Mary Angela Callaghan of San Antonio joined the American Physiotherapy Association and became the first member-at-large from Texas.  In those early days the two classifications of membership were chapter-member or member-at-large and, since there was no Texas Chapter, those joining the Association were "members-at-large from Texas".  Ranka Sigfussion of Houston became the second member-at-large from Texas in 1922.  They paid three dollars National dues and one dollar for the Review.3


Slowly, physiotherapists trickled into the state and in 1930 there were then members-at-large from Texas.  Three were located in San Antonio, three in Houston, four in Dallas, and one in El Paso.    Two of those in Dallas were junior members-at-large.  To the Dallas group goes the credit for the organization of the Texas Chapter.  When Association dues were paid, members were asked to report their activities.  In order to have some activities to report, the Dallas members set up regular monthly meetings at the two installations which had physiotherapy and called these "Chapter Meetings".  The first formal meeting of the Texas Chapter was held May 21, 1930 and at this time the Chapter "Constitution and Bylaws" was adopted.  


A petition was submitted to APTA on May 30, 1930 to form a Texas Chapter.  The original signers of Request for Formation of Chapter were:


Winifred G. Moore
Ela Mary George
John Moreland
Marion VanTassel
Ann Mae Templeton Walsh


It's first president was winifred G. Moore and first secretary, Miriam Van Tassell, both of Dallas, and most of the Chapter activities continued to take place there.  Texas was listed in the Director of Chapters in the 1930 issue of The Physiotherapy Review and a new Chapter was growing.  By 1930 the Chapter membership had increased to a high of fourteen.  In 1940, the second Annual Assembly was held in San Antonio.


All Chapter activities ceased during World War II and did not pick up again until the fall of 1945.  The Chapter became Chartered in June, 1949 (State of Texas designation) and was incorporated in the State of Texas on August 18, 1950.  Signing the Charter were Ruby K. Decker, Bettye F. Rice and Cora Alice Taylor.


The first newsletter was published in 1945. 



1.  U.S. Army Medical Department; Office of Medical History; Chapter III "Physical Therapists Before World War II (1917-40); Section 1. Physical Therapists (1917-19) 

2.  Advance Healthcare Network "The APTA"; 10/16/2000

3.  Historical Highlights, Texas Chapter, American Physical Therapy Association; TPTA Chapter Office, Historical Files


2001 - PRESENT



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