Theodore “Ted” Corbitt
1919 – 2007
An American Pioneer

Ted Corbitt: Master Clinician & Healer

American Physical Therapy Firsts

Ted Corbitt was one of the first Physical Therapists in the United States to study, teach, and practice the following disciplines. He studied directly with each of the originators of these techniques.

  • Connective Tissue Massage (CTM), Bindegewebsmassage
  • PNF Stretching or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
  • Progressive Resistance Exercises (PRE)
  • Applied Kinesiology

Connective Tissue Massage (CTM), Bindegewebsmassage

  • He studied in West Germany in 1956 and 1962 at the Elizabeth Dicke Institute, the developers of CTM.
  • Ted Corbitt introduced CTM to Physical Therapy students at New York University and Columbia University in the 1950s.
  • He taught CTM at Columbia from the 1970 to 1980s.

PNF Stretching or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation

  • Ted Corbitt studied with Margaret Knott in 1960 and Dorothy Voss in 1972, the originators of PNF.
  • He contributed writings to later editions of their book “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation: Patterns and Techniques by Margaret Knott & Dorothy Voss
  • Ted Corbitt taught PNF at Columbia University from 1958 to 1981.

Progressive Resistance Exercises (PRE)

  • He studied the science of resistance exercise as developed by Thomas DeLorme who introduced the use of weight training to the field of rehabilitation in the late 1940s.
  • Ted Corbitt used this treatment for patients during the polio epidemic.
  • He taught PRE at Columbia University from 1954 to 1979.
  • He demonstrated the DeLorme (Elgin) Table and related equipment at Veterans Affairs and other hospitals in the Metropolitan New York area for over 30 years.
  • He was one of the first distance runners worldwide to use PRE to build muscle strength.
  • He helped to usher in the era of strength training becoming mainstream in sports.

Applied Kinesiology

He studied with George Goodheart, a chiropractor who originated Applied Kinesiology in 1964.
This technique is the science of muscle activation. It uses muscle testing methods to determine the need for and effectiveness of treatment. It integrates ideas from Eastern medicine such as meridians, acupressure and the concept of yin and yang. It looks at the body as an integrated whole.
Ted Corbitt taught and practiced this approach to rehabilitation.

Co-authored a book “Hydrotherapy”

In 1960 he co-authored the first modern comprehensive textbook on the therapeutic use of water. It was published by Frederick Ungar Publishing. A portion of the forward reads as follows: “Water is one of the most versatile and most readily available agents for use in the conquest of pain, the relief of tension, and the increase in circulation. Training of physical therapists in the use of hydrotherapy procedures has long been hampered by the lack of an adequate textbook. Two experienced practitioners in the field have now provided a clear, up-to-date presentation of hydrotherapy techniques.”

Other Health & Rehabilitation Accomplishments: Specialized in Polarity Therapy: Polarity therapy is a natural care system based upon the universal principles of energy; attraction, repulsion and neutrality. It addresses the interdependence of body, mind, and spirit. Ted Corbitt when working with patients would use a variety of treatments including exercise, nutrition, massage, and lifestyle discussion. Applied the Lulu Sweigard Approach to Posture Training: Lulu Sweigard developed an education method that stressed the inherent capacity of the nervous system to determine the most efficient neuromuscular coordination for each movement. Ted Corbitt studied with Lulu Sweigard and applied her teachings to his work in treating professional dancers.

City Hospital – Cleveland, Ohio
Staff Physical Therapist                                                                             1948 – 1949

International Center for the Disabled (ICD) – New York
Staff Physical Therapist 1949 – 1950
Supervisor, Remedial Gymnasium 1950 – 1956
Assistant Chief of Physical Therapy 1956 – 1968
Chief & Director of Physical Therapy 1968 - 1986
Assistant Director of Physical Therapy 1986 - 1994

Ted Corbitt worked for 44 years at The International Center for the Disabled in New York.  He taught for over 25 years at Columbia University, and several years at New York University.  ICD had clinical education responsibilities for these other Greater New York area schools: Downstate Medical College, Hunter College, LaGuardia College, and Long Island University.  At age 88 he was still treating private patients three months before his passing.

The ICD Rehabilitation and Research Center was founded by Jeremiah Milbank in 1917.  Its primary purpose, then and now, is to prepare and equip handicapped persons for equal opportunity in the world of the able-bodied.  It was the first rehabilitation center in the United States.

Ted Corbitt was recognized as a master clinician and teacher of Physical Therapy. He was considered an expert in Connective Tissue Massage, Deep Muscle Therapy, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Techniques, and Progressive Resistance Exercises.

He studied with the following legends in field health and rehabilitation:

He studied Connective Tissue Massage from the originator of this technique Elizabeth Dicke during two trips to West Germany in 1956 and 1962.

He studied PNF stretching or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation with Margaret Knott in 1960 at Boston University and with Dorothy Voss in 1972 at Northwestern University.

He studied with Josephine Rathbone a leader in the field of corrective (adaptive) physical education and the medical application of exercise for rehabilitation, which became the field of Physical Therapy.

He studied Neurophysiology: Rood Techniques in 1965 at the University of North Carolina.  This  technique was develop by Margaret Rood.

He studied with Lulu Sweigard a teacher of body balance and efficient movement.  She developed an education method that stressed the inherent capacity of the nervous system to determine the most efficient neuromuscular coordination for each movement.

He studied with Marge Kapsos an originator of cross-fiber friction massage which is a full body massage designed to release toxins, spasms and joint pain.

Other areas of specialization:
  • Applied Kinesiology application of use in Physical Therapy
  • Use of the Rocking Chair as a therapeutic tool
  • Stretching muscles and other soft tissues to increase flexibility
  • Guthrie-Smith Apparatus
  • The Lulu Sweigart approach to Posture Training
  • Polarity Therapy (conglomeration of several treatments: exercise, nutrition, massage, etc.)
He was a pioneer in the 1950s and 1960s for his study and use of acupuncture in patient care.

Ted Corbitt was one of the first distance runners ever to use weight training.  He started to use Progressive Resistance Exercises to build muscle strength while at the University of Cincinnati (1938 – 1942).  He used pulley weights while in college.  His real drive to use resistance exercises came from studies in becoming a physical therapist.

In 1960, Ted Corbitt co-authored a book “Hydrotherapy” a practical manual on the therapeutic use of water.  This was the first modern comprehensive textbook on this important branch of physical therapy.

He was a 60 year member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).  In 1947 when he joined, Ted Corbitt was one of the first African Americans to enter this profession

Ted Corbitt: Master Teacher of Physical Therapy

Teaching Experience:

1. Physical Therapy in Amputation:
a. International Center for the Disabled (ICD)
2. Connective Tissue Massage (C.T.M):
a. New York University “Saturday at the Square” program
b. 40 – hour course at Ithaca College, 1974
c. Long Island University, 1982
d. Introduced C.T.M. to P.T. students at NYU and Columbia
e. Taught at Columbia from 1970 into 1980s.
f. ICD for therapist in the New York area
g. Nassau County Medical Center
h. Demonstrated C.T.M. at several hospitals in the Metropolitan New York City area.
3. Deep Muscle Therapy:
a. Two-day courses at the International Center for the Disabled.
4. PNF: Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Techniques
a. Assisted American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) workshops for courses given at the Downstate Medical Center.
b. Demonstrated PNF Techniques at several hospitals in the metropolitan area.
c. Presented workshops for the New Jersey APTA conference, and for courses presented at the International Center for the Disabled.
d. Taught PNF Techniques for Columbia University Physical Therapy Department 1958 – 1981.
5. Sports Injuries:
a. Presented a seminar for therapist and the public at the International Center for the Disabled.
6. Stretching:
a. Presented a half-day presentation for the New York Orthopedic Study Group, at Lenox Hill Hospital. 1986
7. Connected Tissue Massage & Deep Muscle Therapy:
a. Conducted practicums at ICD for Physical Therapy students from Columbia University.
8. PRE: Progressive Resistance Exercise
a. Columbia University 1954 - 1979
b. Demonstrate PRE equipment for Hunter College students for several years.
c. Gave demonstrations on the DeLorme (Elgin) Table and related equipment at several Veterans Affairs and other hospitals in the Metropolitan New York area, over the past 30 years.
d. Taught Progressive Resistive Exercise at Touro College, Long Island, NY – 1986 and 1987.

Ted Corbitt's Physical Therapy Students:
1955 - 1980
Columbia University
New York University
Hunter College
Foreign Exchange Students

Student Listing Link

Dick Traum & Nancy Linday

Joe Perez, Jack Mantione,
Ted & Gary Corbitt

Ted Corbitt - Physical Therapist

Ted Corbitt Physical Therapist
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