Physical therapy loses one of its greatest pioneers

One of the great pioneers in manipulative physical therapy, and a giant in the profession, Geoffrey Maitland, died in January 2010.

He wrote what have become standard texts on vertebral and peripheral manipulation and his guides to musculoskeletal examination and recording have been published in many different languages. He was a key player in the founding of the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapists in 1974, and continued to play an active role in its consolidation and standards until 1982.

He received many awards for his outstanding contributions, including the highest accolade that WCPT can bestow, the Mildred Elson Award for International Leadership, in 1995.

“Geoff was a towering presence on the international stage of physical therapy,” said Marilyn Moffat, WCPT President. “He was known affectionately for his engaging personality and was deeply respected for his special knowledge and skills. He opened the profession’s eyes to the true importance of precise diagnostic methods, detailed anatomical knowledge and the art of precise and graded passive movement to restore joint function.”

“While he recognised these as part of our common professional heritage, his insight and unique approach was revolutionary not the least for promoting, setting and maintaining the highest standards of practice at national and international level.”

A member of the clinical teaching staff of the South Australian School of Physiotherapy for many years, Geoff also taught in Switzerland and formed strong relationships with the profession in Europe. The International Maitland Teachers Association was founded in Zurzach, Switzerland in 1992.

“His enthusiasm to share his knowledge and skills through teaching and publication globalised his techniques and made them accessible to physical therapists throughout the world,” said Marilyn Moffat.