A lion of a woman, physical therapy pioneer Elizabeth Kenny (1880-1952) was born in rural New South Wales, Australia and is best known for developing a successful treatment for the devastating disease of her time, polio.
About her childhood, she recalled, "As a girl my temper often got out of bounds. But one day when I became angry at a friend over some trivial matter, my mother said to me, 'Elizabeth, anyone who angers you, conquers you.'"
Without a formal education, she used her life-long interest in health care, common sense, and understanding of anatomy to formulate an effective treatment for polio.
She stimulated affected muscles with strips of wool blankets soaked in hot water. She then gently exercised the paralyzed muscles to recovery. Her treatment restored her patients and formed the building blocks of what is now physical therapy.
In dedicating her life to providing the triumphant treatment of polio, Kenny died a year before Jonas Salk discovered the disease's vaccine. About her successes, the remarkable woman reflected, "I've saved up about 10,000 children's smiles, and memories of several hundred straightened little bodies, as an insurance against loneliness in my old age."
A moment of courage makes a difference.