SISTER ELIZABETH KENNY SIGNATURE OF PIONEER POLIO NURSE & PHYSICAL THERAPIST, "Elizabeth Kenny", on card stock 3 x 2, in black ink. In fine condition.
Elizabeth Kenny (20 September 1880 – 30 November 1952) was an unaccredited Australian nurse who promoted a controversial new approach to the treatment of poliomyelitis. Her findings ran counter to conventional medical wisdom; they demonstrated the need to exercise muscles affected by polio instead of immobilizing them. Kenny's principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy.
The story of Kenny's first encounter with an acute case of polio is a 20th-century medical legend, but there is no documented record other than her memoir. The chief witness to the discovery of her method for treating poliomyelitis was Aeneas McDonnell, who died before the story was widely publicized.
In 1915, Kenny volunteered to serve as a nurse in the war. In 1917 she earned the title "Sister" (which in the Australian Army Nurse Corps is the equivalent of a first lieutenant), and used that title for the rest of her life. Kenny's three years of rehabilitative work with a child of a girlhood friend, plus her experience with sick and wounded men during World War I, are probably the foundation for her later work in polio treatment and rehabilitation. The first official evaluation of Sister Kenny's polio work took place in 1934, under the auspices of the Queensland Health Department (QHD). This evaluation of her work led to the establishment of Kenny clinics in several cities in Australia. In 1940 she was given a chance to demonstrate her work in Minneapolis, Minnesota and this was followed by Kenny treatment centers being opened throughout America. In recognition of her work, in February 1950, President Harry Truman signed a Congressional bill giving Kenny the right to enter and leave the USA as she wished without a visa. This honor had only been granted once before, to French marquis Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, who was a leader in the American War of Independence. Her most enduring legacy is the Minneapolis Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.