On September 12, 1938, the Society of Physical Therapy Physicians was founded during the annual meeting of the American Congress of Physical Medicine at the Palmer House in Chicago. The group elected Walter Zeiter, MD, as executive director, a position he held for 22 years. John S. Coulter, MD was elected as the first president.
Membership was limited to physicians with at least five years’ experience in full time practice of physical therapy, with a teaching appointment in a medical school or the director of a department. Membership was by invitation only and was limited (until 1944) to 100 doctors. Dues for the newly formed organization were $5 a year, a rate that continued until 1956.
In 1939, the Society was formalized in New York and had 40 charter members.
Beginning in 1958, the Academy assumed the responsibility for continuing medical education (CME) for members. Since that decision, formal CME has always been offered at each annual meeting.
The name of the organization continually evolved. What began as the American Society of Physical Therapy Physicians in 1938 became the American Society of Physical Medicine in 1944. In 1951, the words “and Rehabilitation” were added. The present name, “The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, was adopted in 1955.
Notable Dates for AAPM&R: