A Mentor and Inspiration: Ted Corbitt

In 1967 I was a student in the New York University Physical Therapy program.  Part of my education was to begin treating patients under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. 

At my very first “clinical affiliation,” I was blessed to come under the dedicated, and profoundly impactful influence of Ted Corbitt, PT.  This soft-spoken, and painfully shy man introduced me, not only to traditional approaches to patient care, but also to more esoteric physical therapy treatments, like Bindegewebsmassage.

A revolutionary approach to therapeutic exercise at the time was “PNF” (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation.)  It had evolved from the work of Dr. Herman Kabat, Dorothy Voss, PT, and Margaret Knott, PT.  Using sophisticated neurophysiological principles, they had developed a system of patterned movements and procedures designed to develop a person’s muscle strength and function.  It was a complex technique, but extremely effective.

Ted would spend hours teaching me PNF patterns and techniques.  I was so captivated that in 1969 I went on to do a 6-month residency with “Maggie” at Kaiser-Permanente Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo, California. 

Future years would find me teaching PNF at multiple rehabilitation facilities and physical therapy programs, including some with Ted himself.  I could never thank Ted enough for introducing me to something that transformed my professional practice.

Ted Corbitt: a Person of Historical Significance

For many years, what I didn’t know was Ted’s history as a runner.  Then  I happened to be in a running-shoe store in Manhattan.  There, on a small book display in a corner, the title “Corbitt” jumped out at me.  My heart almost stopped.  In a 154-page book written by John Chodes, was the amazing story of Ted Corbitt – the marathon runner and a founding member of the New York Road Runners Club.  (That book, with its well-worn pages, is sitting in front of me as I write this article.)

A Son’s Tribute to My Hero

Ted passed on December 12, 2007 at the age of 88.  His son, Gary, has taken up the mantle of keeping his father’s story alive.  Today I invite you to watch the 5-minute tribute video Gary produced.  I believe you will be as touched and inspired as I have been.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVnGHzUkFPg

Here’s wishing you all inspired good health.


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C. Vicki Gold, PT, MA


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