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Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre

The 7th general meeting, Amsterdam, the Netherlands - 1970


Physical Therapy started in Jamaica in the late 1930’s by Mrs. Kindersley, who through voluntary service administered massage, heat treatments and exercises to patients at the Kingston Public Hospital Orthopedic Clinic. In 1940, Ms. Phyllis Wilson, the first Jamaican trained in Physical Therapy returned home to offer her services and take the baton from Mrs. Kindersley.
The first Physiotherapy Department was eventually opened at the Kingston Public Hospital and its value became eminent following the 1953 poliomyelitis outbreak in Jamaica. Physiotherapy, then, became one of the arsenal of weapons the medical profession used to deal with this devastating disease. This served to highlight the importance of Physiotherapy and, as such, the demand for the profession grew. Other facets of the profession also came to the fore, such as the ability to deal with neurological and respiratory conditions, as well as the ability to offer rehabilitative services.
Over time, the demand for Physiotherapy services grew and Physiotherapy departments were established at various hospitals across the island, including the National Chest Hospital, University Hospital and the Bustamante Hospital for Children. Some other departments countrywide still in existence opened as follows:

  • St. James Hospital (now Cornwall Regional) – 1967

  • St. Ann’s Bay Hospital – 1971

  • Spanish Town Hospital – 1972

  • Mandeville Regional Hospital - 1976

  • Savanna-la-Mar Hospital – 1995

With more departments opening across the island and an increase in demand for Physiotherapy services, it followed that there needed to be an increase in the volume of locally trained therapists and after much lobbying the School of Physical Therapy was established in Jamaica.

The Jamaica Physiotherapy Association

Ms. Wilson recognized the need to have a local association of Physical Therapists to:

  • ​give recognition to, promote and protect the profession of Physical Therapy in Jamaica 

  • standardize clinical techniques and practices to help to maintain quality control

  • achieve bargaining status

Thus, in May 1964 the JPA was formed, with an executive comprising Ms. Wilson, chairman, Ms. J. Erwin, secretary and Ms. W. Magnus, treasurer. In April 1070, the association with a local membership of nine persons was granted membership in the World Confederation for Physical Therapists (WCPT) at the international congress held in Amsterdam. The association today has a membership of 55 therapists both locally and overseas. The internal structure of committees such as education, fundraising, ethics and public relations, etc is testimony to its ambition to maintain a high standard of performance and representation for the profession. The JPA has been instrumental in facilitating the upgrading of the knowledge base of local therapists through organizing educational seminars relevant to the profession.

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