In a world where women struggle to obtain the respect and recognition they deserve in the social and professional spheres, there is a profession in which the role of women is and has always been fundamental: physiotherapy. The role of the woman physiotherapist has transcended the clinics and has even invaded the field of higher education in this discipline of health science. In fact, it is estimated that, worldwide, around 75% of physiotherapists are women. However, according to Alicia Quintanilla Coello, member of the General Council of Physiotherapists’ Associations in Spain, in an interview with EcoDiario (7 March 2012), this figure « contrasts with the scarce presence of women at the head of professional associations or as researchers and publishers of science ».
According to José Ángel González (2018), director of the magazine Fisioterapia al Día, the contribution of women in the world of health, in general, has been decisive; despite this, the female figure has not enjoyed the recognition it deserves, especially during the pre-contemporary stages. In this regard, Gonzalez (2018, p. 60) mentions:
« The transition period between the 19th and 20th centuries becomes in the decades previous to the professionalization of physical therapy for most of the world, where historiographic literature points out that the practice of physiotherapy fell equally between doctors and nurses, a solid argument to assure that the first physiotherapists were women nurses ».
The story goes that some of the women who revolutionized physiotherapy treatments at the time were Rosalind Page and Elizabeth Kenny. The former led the Society of Trained Masseuses (a forerunner to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) for two decades, while Kenny dedicated her life to fighting the aftermath of polio in children.
Kenny’s approach to therapeutic treatment became popular with the Elizabeth Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1943, a renowned muscle rehabilitation center.
According to González’s publication, in the mid 20th century, when the generalised institutionalisation of physiotherapy took place, « methodologies and their main promoters began to proliferate, with a large female representation ». Among the contributions that stand out at this time are those of Françoise Mezieres, creator of the concept of muscular chains, and Florence Kendall, known for her manual of muscular tests.
Today, women continue to contribute their knowledge and uniqueness to the development of new methods of physiotherapy, and have proven that their role is extremely important in all areas of this profession, including sports physiotherapy.
If you want to obtain all the benefits that physiotherapy brings to your health, go to Physiobalance, the centre that specialises in physiotherapy where you will find health professionals who offer natural methods to improve your physical condition.
Visit our website, physiobalance.ca and find out about the services we offer.