Thanks to everyone who sent me comments and thoughts on the Connectivity writing project. Over the next few days I’ll post up some of the feedback and thoughts that these pieces. Remember to send comments on these things too and I’ll pull them all together.
This post came from Jonathan Harvey, PhD candidate (just submitted!), clinician and brain injury sufferer, working at the Open University in the UK.
I begin this short note by situating myself as a brain injury survivor who engages with a host of different objects (both living and otherwise) and environments on a daily basis. I started my undergraduate studies with two years of a three year physiotherapy degree in 2001-2003. In 2003, I sustained a brain injury and suspended my degree. Since then, I have largely embedded my academic career within the social sciences. Having said this, I have continually been interested in the way that social scientific concepts can be used for the advancement of medical practice. I believe the concept of connectivity is an excellent example of where such interdisciplinary thought can promote physiotherapy and all medical practice.
I benefit from being able to see the profession through the lens of a clinician, a care receiver and more recently as a social science researcher. Thus, I am able to think through, and draw meaning from, the everyday happenings in my life when I make connections with other people, places and things. In addition, I have recently completed some research which explored the everyday activities of young men who have sustained a brain injury. In the study, many of the young men talked of the connections that they make during their lives. Having had a little time to think through the meanings of these encounters, I prefer to embrace these connections for the ways that support can be conceptualised in a reciprocal manner; a way in which disabled people can acknowledge and celebrate situations where they can both give and receive care and support. As a brain injury survivor myself, I am particularly drawn to situations where the existence of brain injury survivors can be celebrated in terms of how they can be conceptualised as benefiting the lives of those around them.
In a similar way to how the social and medical models of disability create a somewhat uncomfortable binary, so does much work concerning care and support for disabled people. This promotes an understanding of disabled peoples lives which highlights continual passivity and the need for the disabled person to always be in receipt of care and support regardless of situational circumstances. For instance, if a person has largely physical impairment(s), an ability to provide emotional support is a huge pool of opportunity which may remain largely unexplored. The opposite is applicable for a person who may have cognitive impairment(s). It has been observed that identity is a wholly complex phenomenon, which is fluid, and at times, contradictory in nature (Goodley 2011). Given this, I would suggest that disabled people’s lives should be considered on an individual basis; one which remains open to life’s uniqueness and recognises the destructive way of conceptualising the connections disabled people make in their lives solely as a ‘means to achieve independence’ (Gibson and Teachman 2012). Rather, these connections could be (re)conceptualised as occasions which enable the creation of connectivities. These occasions could be said to encompass unrestricted opportunity; an opportunity to highlight limitless potential in arenas of boundless potential in the life journey of all humans.
Gibson, B E, & Teachman, G. (2012) Critical Approaches in Physical Therapy Research: Investigating the Symbolic Value of Walking. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice. 28(6):474-484.
Goodley, D (2011) Disability Studies: An interdisciplinary introduction. London, Sage.