VA celebrates 70 years of rehabilitation services during National Kinesiotherapy Week


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Kinesiotherapy Driver Rehabilitation Training.National Kinesiotherapy Week is Sept. 12-16.  This year marks 70 years of kinesiotherapy — or KT — as an allied health profession within physical medicine and rehabilitation services.  KT (formerly corrective therapy) is the application of scientifically-based exercise principles adapted to enhance strength, endurance, coordination, range of motion and mobility of individuals with functional limitations or those requiring extended physical conditioning.

During World War II, corrective physical reconditioning units were established to accelerate the return of troops to active duty following injury, and as a result, corrective therapists, became a part of the U.S. Armed Forces’ rehabilitation effort employing exercise and mobility programming.  In 1946, corrective therapy became a part of the rehabilitation process for hospitalized Veterans within the Veterans Health Administration and John Eisele Davis, Sc.D. served as the first chief of Corrective Therapy in VA’s Central Office.

Bernadine Sanchez, Registered Kinesiotherapist, Tampa VA Medical Center leads a Be Active and MOVE! group telehealth physical activity session.

Bernadine Sanchez, Registered Kinesiotherapist, Tampa VA Medical Center leads a Be Active and MOVE! group telehealth physical activity session.

Since that time, the discipline has evolved through a structured educational curriculum and clinical internship expanding with job opportunities within the federal and private sectors.  In 1987, corrective therapy was renamed kinesiotherapy to better represent its role as a physical medicine and rehabilitation provider of therapeutic exercise, and the national professional organization became known as the American Kinesiotherapy Association and subsequently also renaming the professional research journal Clinical Kinesiology.  In the continuing effort to meet and maintain the highest standards for rehabilitation, KT was formally recognized as an allied health profession by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), in April 1995.

Today, VA is the single largest employer of kinesiotherapists providing services to Veterans and Servicemembers through a holistic approach to overall patient care emphasizing psychological as well as physical benefits of therapeutic exercise and education within the acute and post-acute rehabilitation process.  Kinesiotherapists apply specialty training and certifications in their evidence-based practice across the continuum of care for Veterans with a wide spectrum of  neurologic, orthopedic, mental health, surgical and medical conditions, including special populations such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI), amputation, homeless, obesity and geriatric patients.

For more information on VA kinesiotherapy, please visit http://vaww.rehab.va.gov/PMR/index.asp and http://www.prosthetics.va.gov/   Also, please contact your local VA KT Department within Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services to inquire about available services or additional information regarding “National KT Week” events at your local VA medical center.

Pictured above: Tammy Beeler, registered kinesiotherapist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services (PMRS) at the Dallas VA Medical Center, trains Veteran Emmett Pryor for adaptive sports competition at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games


About the author: Diane J. Waller, MHA, RKT is a rehabilitation planning specialist within the National Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program Office, Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services in VA Central Office and has worked for VA for 22 years.. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She completed her clinical training in kinesiotherapy at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond. Waller earned a Master of Health Care Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and completed a post graduate residency within the Veterans Health Administration Graduate Healthcare Administration Training Program.  Before transitioning into health care administration, she began her VA career as a registered kinesiotherapist and certified aquatic therapist at VA North Texas Health Care Center in Dallas.

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