If there’s one concept that seems to have united physiotherapists in recent years, its movement.
Movement for Health is the theme chosen by WCPT in 2008 to convey ‘the core of what physical therapists/physiotherapists do’ (link), Movement for Life has been adopted by physiotherapy clinics (link) and professional bodies (link), and like pain, has become a key way that we are now trying to express our point of difference, complexity and diversity of skills.
And yet movement remains almost entirely unexamined by the profession (which is interesting, given how much stall we now seem to place on evidence-based practice!)
Apart from a few attempts to provide a larger appreciation for movement (see, for example, Cott et al, 1995; Barlindhaug et al, 2012; Wikström-Grotell et al, 2012), few have defined what physiotherapists understand movement to mean.
This is not just an academic exercise however because, clearly, movement lies at the core of what we do, and physiotherapists take a very particularly and oddly specific view of movement.
Draw a line across a blank piece of paper and write down all of the kinds of microscopic movements you can think of – diffusion or osmosis – for example, on the far left hand end. Then at the other end draw all the massive social movements, like migrations and diaspora. Then draw a box somewhere in the middle to represent the physiotherapy view of movement.
It would be surprising if flexion and extension of the elbow, Vo2max tests, motor activation patterns, or even group rehabilitation methods take up more than about one-tenth of the length of the line.
Physiotherapists have never been concerned with movement in all its breadth and diversity, but with a relatively narrow biomechanical view of movement. It does not need to remain so, however.
It was physiotherapists themselves, after all, that chose to adopt this rather limited view, and it could be physiotherapists that decide to change.
Why should we not become the advocates for all movement – not just the ones bounded by individual physical bodies?
Perhaps make today the day to claim a new idea of movement for the profession and see what opportunities open up for your thinking and practice?
Cott, C. A., Finch, E., Gasner, D., Yoshida, K., Thomas, S. G., & Verrier, M. C. (1995). The movement continuum theory of physical therapy. Physiotherapy Canada, 47(2), 87-95.
Barlindhaug, G., Emaus, N., & Foss, N. (2012). Movements in a broader perspective – A study of women in a mountainous village in nepal. Advances in Physiotherapy, 14(2), 78-86. doi:10.3109/14038196.2012.675351.
Wikström-Grotell, C., & Eriksson, K. (2012). Movement as a basic concept in physiotherapy–a human science approach. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 28(6), 428-38. doi:10.3109/09593985.2012.692582.