The Aquatic Physical Therapy Section the First Ten Years: A Decade of Progress by: Jean Irion


As a parent, the refrain, "I can not believe how much they have grown or some other adage to recognize that time has quickly passed before our eyes is often heard. Well, guess what? The Aquatic Physical Therapy (APT) Section is approaching its Tenth Anniversary. We should all be quite proud of what has happened during these past ten years and recognize those that have contributed unselfishly to the development and maturation of the Aquatic PT Section. As always, we have a ways to go, but now is the time to sit back and relish in the glory of the moments and celebrate all that has been accomplished.

The Beginning: Recognition As A Section

Only Judy Cirullo, accompanied by Richard C. Ruoti, could tell us of the origination of the APT Section. It was through the unrelenting efforts of these two professionals that we are here to celebrate our Tenth anniversary. Cirullo and Ruoti met in Chicago in 1989 and 'had a dream' to develop a section within the APTA for therapists working in the aquatic environment. To gain recognition as a bona fide section of the APTA, an arduous process needed to be undertaken, starting with a petition drive. Along with the petition, part of the process to become a section entails a letter of intent to be sent to the other sections of the APTA to advise the sections of a proposal to develop a new section. Cirullo and Ruoti undertook that process. There was initial resistance from the executive committee members of some of the other sections and also representatives from the House of Delegates of the APTA. Executive committee members of these sections and delegates of the House questioned the need for a section devoted to aquatic intervention when aquatic therapy, at the time, was viewed only as a 'modality, just like ultrasound.' Some executive committee members of other sections wanted to take aquatic therapists under their wings as a "subsection" or specialty group within their section, knowing the value of aquatic intervention for the patients served by their section.

With the petition process completed, a vote by the House of Delegates of the APTA was scheduled at the annual conference in Denver in 1992. A great deal of lobbying was done behind the scenes for most issues that came before the house for a vote. This lobbying effort was undertaken by Cirullo and Ruoti in an undaunted manner and primarily at their own expense. Their hard work paid off with passage of the APT Section by the house at the conclusion of the meeting. Ruoti would like to recognize the current President of the APTA, Ben Massey, for his guidance and support in the efforts he and Cirullo undertook during the process of becoming a section. We most definitely owe a great deal of gratitude to Cirullo and Ruoti for seeing this process through to such a wondrous outcome.