5 March 2021 — 12:00 noon — online

Jan Todd (UT Stark Center)

Weights and War: Thomas L. DeLorme and the Transformation of Rehabilitative Medicine”

In the latter years of the Second World War, the number of American servicemen who had sustained orthopedic injuries was overwhelming the nation’s military hospitals. The backlog of patients was due, in part, to the sheer number of soldiers involved in the war effort, but it was exacerbated by rehabilitation protocols which required lengthy recovery times. In 1945, an army physician and active weightlifter, Dr. Thomas L. DeLorme, experimented with a new rehabilitation technique. DeLorme’s new protocol consisted of multiple sets of resistance exercises in which patients lifted their ten-repetition maximum. The high intensity program, which he called Progressive Resistance Exercise,  was markedly more successful than older rehabilitation protocols and it was quickly adopted as the new standard in all military and most civilian physical therapy programs. Further, DeLorme’s academic publications on progressive resistance exercise helped legitimize strength training and played a key role in laying the foundation for the scientific study of resistance exercise.  Dr. Jason Shurley of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater was my research partner and is co-author on this project.


Professor Jan Todd directs the Physical Culture and Sport Studies Doctoral Program in UT’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. She is also the founder (with her late husband Terry Todd) of the H. J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports and serves as its director. Todd’s research examines the history of exercise and body culture with a special emphasis on the history of strength and sports medicine.  Her most recent book is Strength Coaching in America: A History of the Innovation that Transformed Sports (UT Press, 2019; coauthored with Jason Shurley and Terry Todd).


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