Physical Therapy

By: Ruby Decker

Type: General Entry

Published: May 1, 1995

Physical therapists, practitioners of a specialized health-care service performed for the rehabilitation of those disabled by pain or loss of motor function, have been active in Texas since the 1920s. On May 21, 1930, ten physical therapists organized the Texas Physical Therapy Association as a state chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association. Because Texas was such a large state, the TPTA soon divided into two districts, the northern and the southern. In the mid-1980s there were nine districts with a total membership of about 1,800. In 1971 the Sixty-second Texas Legislature established the nine-member Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners to supervise the mandatory licensure of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. Reciprocity is available in most other states.

By 1986 six accredited physical therapy programs in Texas graduated about 180 students each year. The first physical therapy training program in Texas began in 1943 at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. In the mid-1980s the UTMB program continued in the School of Allied Health Sciences and offered the B.S. degree. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio offered the B.S. degree, as did the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Texas Woman's University provided physical therapy training on three different campuses: in Denton with the B.S. degree; in Houston with the B.S. and M.S. degrees; and in Dallas with the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees. Baylor University sponsored a master's level program for the United States Army Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and the School of Allied Health Sciences at Texas Tech University in Lubbock offered the B.S. degree. In the mid-1980s Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos was developing a B.S. program in physical therapy.

At this time an associate's degree in applied sciences was provided by six programs for physical therapy assistants: at Amarillo College in Amarillo, Austin Community College in Austin, the Community College of the United States Air Force at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Houston Community College in Houston, St. Phillip's College in San Antonio, and Tarrant County College in Hurst. By the mid-1980s McLennan Community College in Waco was developing a physical therapy assistant program. At that time between seventy-five and eighty students graduated annually from these programs.

G. Beard, "Foundations for Growth," Physical Therapy 41 (December 1961). Ruby Decker, "A Hard Look," Physical Therapy 46 (December 1966). Texas Physical Therapy Association, Texas Chapter Historical File, Austin.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ruby Decker, “Physical Therapy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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