Prepared By: TLAR

Physical therapy is the name given to the use of physical agents for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. The history of physical medicine traces to ancient times when the beneficial effects of various physical agents have been recognized. In the early ages, there were some movements in China and India that we could consider as exercises for muscles and joint pain. In ancient Greece, there were various kinds of exercises for the continuation or recovery of health in the saloons called "gymnasium". Thousands of years ago, static electricity which was released from the torpedo fish was used for treatment. Commencement of use of physical agents in the diagnosis and treatment in Turkey was at the end of the nineteenth century. The doctors who graduated from Military Medical School in 1898 made their first electrodiagnosis, electrotherapy and massage specialization in Gülhane Seririyatı Clinics established in Topkapı Palace. After the proclamation of the constitutional monarchy, various Turkish physicians were sent to Germany and trained there and the foundations of modern physical therapy were laid. Specialist physicians whom their numbers have been gradually increasing have become practitioners of this branch in Bursa, Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir universities and state hospitals. The first physical therapy branch excluding the military was established by Osman Cevdet Çubukçu in Istanbul University. The physical therapy group led by Osman Cevdet Cubukcu, Nüshet Şakir Dirisu (in Ankara) and İsmet Çetinyalçın (in Istanbul) have become the first people who started the scientific rheumatology practice in Turkey. 

Since the beginning, physical agents have been applied in the control of PMR specialists. As in the rest of the world, physical therapy has become a growing branch in our country, and today it continues to serve in the treatment and rehabilitation of all degenerative rheumatic diseases in Turkey with specialists more than 200. 

Rehabilitation is to maximize the physical, emotional, social, occupational and educational potential of the person with physiological or anatomic incompetence and environmental incompatibility in accordance with their desires and life plan. 

Medical rehabilitation studies started after the World War I, in which disabilities, social and economic problems increased intensively, and became more serious and widespread after World War II and the concept of rehabilitation was gradually established.

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, this discipline was called as 'physical therapy' and then 'Physical Medicine'. And finally in the second half of the century it was named as 'Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation' by adding 'rehabilitation'.

Definition Mission and Targets of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician in Turkey

The main areas of interest of Turkish PMR physicians are the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders. With these characteristics, they are in a slightly different way than their colleagues in many other countries. In fact, while the concept of rehabilitation and musculoskeletal problems of all branches enter our field of study, in the case of rheumatic diseases or rheumatology, PMR physicians in our country play an active role in all stages of diagnosis and treatment. Since Turkish PMR physicians have an area of application in our country, they have education intensively in rheumatic diseases. Although rheumatology, which is our subspecialty, has been turned into a main branch in some countries and this condition has led to the de facto separation of rheumatology and rehabilitation practices, these two concepts cannot be considered separately in patients who generally have a chronic course and who need lifelong rehabilitation.

Although the developments which we have seen in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases attract the attention of physicians from many branches to rheumatic diseases, it is clear that limiting the treatment of this group of diseases with only drug treatment is not correct. Physical therapy methods (exercise, physical therapy agents, etc.) are an important component of the treatment. Therefore, Turkish PMR physicians are only group of physicians who offer physical treatment methods to their patients as well as all drug therapies, and also aim to improve their quality of life by rehabilitating them and thus approach the musculoskeletal system involvement entirely with all their causes and consequences. As they play the most important role in the settlement of concepts in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases in every region of Turkey in the past, they continue to play the most effective role today. Turkish League Against Rheumatology (TLAR), one of the associations of our branch, was founded in 1947 under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Nüzhet Şakir Dirisu. It became a member of European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) which was founded in the same year in order to represent Turkey scientifically. TLAR is an association for public benefit and its purposes are to inform the society about rheumatic diseases, to support scientific research and to organize courses, congresses and symposia in order to support post-graduate education. The first international activity of the association was the EULAR Congress which was held in Istanbul in 1959. In 1962, the concept of rheumatology was included in the specialization statute for the first time and it was accepted as a subspecialty of both physical therapy and internal diseases. Our association organizes symposia and congresses about rheumatic diseases every year. Delegates are sent to the general assembly of EULAR and to the working groups on epidemiology, education and clinical drug research regularly every year. National working groups have been formed within the association. While activities of  rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthropathy work groups continue, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia study groups are still under construction.