Prominent Women in Physiotherapy: A Tribute on International Working Women’s Day

Today, on March 8, 2024, we commemorate International Working Women’s Day, a fitting occasion to recognize and pay tribute to women who have made a significant impact in various professional fields. In this context, we cannot overlook the profound contribution of women in the realm of physiotherapy.
Dorothea Erxleben, whose name may sound unfamiliar to some, was a trailblazer as the first female physician. In her thesis, she investigated the reasons why women avoided pursuing university education, marking a milestone in the history of medicine.
In the field of physiotherapy, it is not just one remarkable woman but a group of British nurses who, in the late 19th century, founded the “Society of Trained Masseuses,” led by Rosalind Page. At that time, physiotherapy lacked recognition and was primarily practiced by doctors and nurses.

As we enter the 20th century, the name Elizabeth Kenny resonates more familiarly. Her revolutionary contribution to addressing children affected by polio left an indelible mark, being referenced not only in medical circles but also immortalized in novels and films about the disease.
Olive Frances Guthrie Smith is another notable figure in the history of physiotherapy. During World War I, she worked with soldiers affected in combat and introduced the therapy of suspended movement.
In the mid-20th century, several female names emerged that solidified physiotherapy as a recognized profession in the fields of medicine and health. Françoise Mezieres, the creator of the Mezier concept for the treatment of muscular chains; Florence Kendell and Lucille Daniels, who developed tests to assess the muscular system; and Catherine Worthington, the mind behind the concept of therapeutic exercise.

Delving into the field of neurological physiotherapy, we find the name of physiotherapist Berta Bobath, who, along with her husband, devised the Bobath Concept. This approach is renowned for the treatment of neurological diseases such as Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, and other less common conditions.

In Spain, we have references such as Bettina Paeth, a German physiotherapist who introduced the Bobath Concept and founded our center. We also highlight Marisa Frontera, a reference in applying the Bobath Concept in the physiotherapeutic treatment of children with neurological diseases.

The list of influential women in the world of physiotherapy is extensive and continues to grow. At the Neurorehabilitation Clinic, we pay tribute to all the pioneers of physiotherapy, firmly believing in the motto: ‘Investing in women: accelerating progress.'”


Functional movement disorder

What is this movement disorder?

Functional movement disorder, also known as psychogenic movement disorder, is a neurological condition characterized by the presence of abnormal movements, weakness, or alterations in motor coordination without an evident organic basis. Although the symptoms appear to be neurological in origin, they are not related to structural injuries or dysfunctions in the central or peripheral nervous system.

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in approaching and treating this disorder. The focus of physiotherapy is on functional rehabilitation and improving the quality of life of patients suffering from this disorder. One of the main objectives of physiotherapy is to help the patient regain functionality and reintegrate into their daily activities.

Physiotherapeutic treatment for functional movement disorder includes a combination of techniques and approaches. Firstly, a comprehensive assessment is conducted to understand the nature and extent of the patient’s symptoms. This allows for the design of a personalized treatment plan tailored to the individual needs of each person.

Physiotherapy techniques used may include specific rehabilitation exercises to improve coordination, strength, and balance. These exercises are designed to assist the patient in controlling and improving abnormal movements. Additionally, sensory and proprioceptive reeducation techniques may be used to enhance body perception and coordination.

Teamwork is essential in the treatment of functional movement disorder. Physiotherapists collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals such as psychologists and neurologists to ensure a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be an integral part of the treatment, addressing the emotional and psychological aspects that may contribute to symptom manifestation.

In conclusion, physiotherapy plays a vital role in addressing functional movement disorder by helping patients improve functionality and quality of life through a multidisciplinary approach involving specific exercises, rehabilitation techniques, and close collaboration with other healthcare professionals. This comprehensive approach is essential to achieve positive outcomes and facilitate the reintegration of patients into their daily activities.