The United States Army physical therapy experience: evaluation and treatment of patients with neuromusculoskeletal disorders

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1994 May;19(5):261-6. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1994.19.5.261.


Army physical therapists have had unique experiences relevant to orthopaedic physical therapy. The educational process, expanded clinical privileges, and physician supervisor role as developed to prepare and support physical therapists working as primary neuromusculoskeletal screeners are summarized. After-action reports demonstrate that Army physical therapists can evaluate and treat one-third of all sick-call patients generated in field training missions and significantly improve return-to-duty rates without requiring physician intervention. The historic events that led to the physician-extender role in the evaluation and treatment of patients with neuromusculoskeletal conditions are presented. These events support the current battlefield assignment of physical therapists as far forward as the inflatable Combat Support Hospitals. The scope of Army physical therapy practice continues to evolve and expand to meet the new challenge of nation assistance, peace-keeping, and humanitarian missions.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine / education
  • Military Medicine / history
  • Military Medicine / trends*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / education
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / history
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / trends*
  • Physician's Role
  • United States