Obituary: Freddy Kaltenborn (1923-2019)

A giant has died, the likes of which we will see no more.

He was the right man at the right time. Physical Therapy had not yet become a profession when in the 1950’s Freddy Kaltenborn then of Norway and later of Germany, began his interest in mastering joint manipulation. He knew it to be effective and set out to understand why. He reached out to Dr’s James Cyriax, James Mennell and Alan Stoddard in the medical field and to McConnaill in joint physiology. In this interdisciplinary manner he quite possibly became the first clinical scientist in physical therapy.

In the 1960’s he gave generously of his time to this therapist and later to Olaf Evjenth, Robin McKenzie, Brian Mulligan and many more who made their mark in spinal and extremity care. He was one of the three consultants along with Geoffrey Maitland and Gregory Grieve who helped inaugurate the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) in Montreal, 1974. He later helped found the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPTF) by calling together all the interested parties.

He continued through lectures and training teachers to promote his work and to strive for further understanding of underlying principles to strengthen the rules he developed. For Freddy Kaltenborn, competency and standards were vital to the success of our profession. He championed the creation of international educational standards and certification in manipulative therapy and served as the first chairperson of IFOMPT’s Standards Committee. Tireless into his nineties, he continued to be involved and concerned over professional issues.

His partner for most of his life was Traudi Baldauf who survives Freddy and who is also a physical therapist. She assisted him in his teachings, moderated his forceful character, tended to his health and nurtured his soul.

He published books but not articles, clinical papers but not research. He was the consummate clinician who through his writings, teachings and mentoring will live on forever in the history and development of manual and manipulative therapy.

Obituary provided by Stanley V. Paris PT., PhD., HonLLD(Otago) and published on the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) website at

Posted by Glenn Ruscoe

Glenn is a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist working in private practice in Perth, Australia. A strong advocate for the profession, Glenn has been heavily involved in leadership of professional associations and regulatory boards. Currently he is Managing Director of the Registry Operator of the .physio domain top level extension.

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