Exercises in therapy-neurological gymnastics between Kurort and hospital medicine, 1880-1945

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This article focuses on the convergence of sports and medicine in the practice of neurological gymnastics (Übungstherapie) in the German-speaking world at the turn of the twentieth century. It shows how Übungstherapie frst found receptive ground within the peripheral medical space of the spa town (Kurort). Übungstherapie appealed to Kurort patients because, as a form of neurological gymnastics, it drew on the cultural capital of the broader German gymnastics movement. Only later did Übungstherapie find a place in more mainstream medicine, recasting itself as an integral part of neurological practice. Recuperating the therapeutic aspects of neurology, this article suggests that the development of Übungstherapie contributed to the formation of neurology as an independent specialty, distinct from psychiatry and internal medicine. It thus demonstrates the importance of expanding the scope of historical study beyond the traditional boundaries of the mainstream in order to understand clinical, institutional, and disciplinary change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-131
Number of pages30
JournalBulletin of the History of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • General Nursing
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


  • Disability
  • Discipline formation
  • Neurological gymnastics
  • Neurology
  • Otfrid Foerster
  • Spa medicine
  • Therapeutics
  • Turnen


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