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  • Writer's picturekatherinepiette

The History of Physical Therapy in Wound Care Nursing


The role of physical therapy in wound care nursing has its beginnings in World War I with physiotherapists, the precursors of current day physical therapists, working to rehabilitate injured soldiers. These war-related injuries included amputations, burns, cold injuries (hypothermia), and wounds. These early day physical therapists used both massage and whirlpool therapies in their rehabilitation efforts. Whirlpools served to cleanse the wounds and soften the necrotic tissue prior to debridement.

The role of physical therapists in wound care nursing expanded in World War II, when advanced weaponry resulted in more complex injuries and wounds. More soldiers survived their wounds and injuries due to development of antibiotics and more advanced means of transporting injured soldiers. As a result, wound treatment options expanded with physical therapists adding heat, cold, and electrical stimulation to their repertoire of therapies.

Since that time, the role of physical therapists in wound care nursing has continued to expand and evolve. Today, physical therapists provide total wound management including the initial wound assessment, development of the treatment plan to debride, dressing selection and treatment. Additionally, they are trained in the use of advanced wound treatment modalities including ultrasound, electrical stimulation, negative pressure wound therapy, and pulsed lavage.

To learn more about physical therapists important role in wound care, please download our white paper - “The Role of the Physical Therapist in Wound Healing” by Harriett Loehne, PT, DPT, CWS, FACCWS. Dr. Loehne, a member of Corstrata’s Clinical Advisory Board, is a leading expert and consultant in physical therapy and the vital role the profession plays in wound management. She currently serves as the president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Academy of Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management (ACEWM) and Chairperson of the Task Force for an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).


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