The Section on Women’s Health of the American Physical Therapy Association was formed in 1977 by Elizabeth Noble. Originally called the Section on Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was founded to serve as a resource for physical therapists interested in the healthcare of women before, during, and after pregnancy. The scope of practice for Section members has now increased to include a myriad of health concerns of women: incontinence, pelvic/vaginal pain, prenatal and postpartum musculosketelal pain, osteoporosis, rehabilitation following breast surgery, lymphedema, conditions specific to the female athlete, fibromyalgia and chronic pain, wellness and exercise.
The membership voted to change the name of the Section in 1995 to the Section on Women’s Health to mark the specialized education regarding women’s physical therapy needs. In 2011, the Mission & Vision statements were updated to recognize specialized Section members who also treat males affected by incontinence, pelvic pain, fibromyalgia, and osteoporosis.
Currently over 2,580 members utilize every facet of their physical therapy training to evaluate and treat common and complex conditions that affect women and men. Patients across the life span, from the young athlete, to the childbearing woman, to the peri-menopausal woman, to the elderly man can receive benefit from physical therapy. The Section on Women’s Health is a resource for physical therapists treating treating patients of all ages and many health challenges. The Section offers continuing education training, two publications (Journal of the Section on Women’s Health and Highlights on Women’s Health Newsletter), mentoring, networking, and regional and national meetings for its membership.