The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research is the only national nonprofit solely dedicated to funding physical therapy research and promising researchers.


The Foundation is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization governed by a Board of Trustees.  Our sole purpose is to fund physical therapy research through grants, scholarships, and fellowships. Through these investments, researchers go on to yield exceptional research that helps us to learn more about the efficacy of physical therapy practices, pioneer breakthrough treatments, and build the evidence-base to define the value of physical therapy among payers, other health care professions, and patients. We create a pipeline for future researchers and sow the seeds for new research to come.

The Foundation relies on the donations of individuals, corporations and organizations to advance its mission. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a 501(c) (6) organization, is a benefactor of the Foundation. The Foundation was established with initial seed money from APTA members. The Foundation and APTA are separate, but philosophically linked organizations that share a decades-long partnership.


The Foundation funds research and develops researchers to optimize movement and health.


The Foundation’s mission is to fund research and develop researchers to optimize movement and health.


Our vision is shaping the future of healthcare through physical therapy research.


Physical therapy improves quality of life, health, and movement. Research makes the profession of physical therapy stronger by defining the value of physical therapy, providing data to help professionals deliver the best possible care, and developing innovative treatments and approaches.


The Foundation is now celebrating over 40 years of research and researchers.


The history of the Foundation for Physical Therapy begins with the visionaries who sought to advance the profession and science of physical therapy. In 1954, Mildred Elson first thought of the idea of a physical therapy tax-exempt fund. In 1957, the Physical Therapy Fund was incorporated with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) serving as its sponsoring agent. The Board of Directors was made up of members from APTA’s headquarters staff in New York.

In 1958, the first grant of $1,500 — equivalent to about $12,800 today in adjusted dollars — was awarded to the Northern Midwest Section of the Council of Physical Therapy School Directors. The study evaluated the frequency of use of modalities, procedures and treatment techniques in clinical settings and was completed in 1958. Between 1957 and 1970, approximately $30,000 was contributed to the Fund and $23,500 was expended in 15 awards. The Fund continued to grow, awarding $60,405 to 26 researchers from 1971-1977.

In 1977, Charles Magistro, PT, FAPTA, conceived a plan to raise more money for research. He drafted and spearheaded the plan to change the Physical Therapy Fund to the Foundation for Physical Therapy. The Foundation for Physical Therapy was incorporated as a charitable organization in 1979.

APTA members were assessed a $15 contribution to establish seed money for the Foundation — one of many key contributions that APTA would make to promoting physical therapy research. APTA remains the Foundation’s Pinnacle Partner in Research and is a leading donor of key initiatives such as the Center on Health Training Research (CoHSTAR).

Since these initial investments, the Foundation has remained dedicated to advancing physical therapy through clinical research, doctoral scholarships, and fellowships. In 2019, the Foundation changed its name from the Foundation for Physical Therapy to the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research to better communicate our work and mission.

Since this critical early investment, the Foundation has continued to grow to meet the needs of the physical therapy profession, awarding over $22.7 million in grants, fellowships, and scholarships to date.

Awards Distributed
Funding Awarded
Researchers Funded
In Follow-On Funding