This post from CPN member Amy Hiller was recently published in the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s InMotion magazine (link) and is reproduced with the kind permission of the APA.
There is a link to the original pdf here.
The critical physiotherapy forum aimed to provide a platform for thought and discussion about the practice of physiotherapy, highlighting philosophical, historical, ethical and social aspects of the profession. The theme of the session was consideration for ‘how the profession is, was and can be’. This was the first known conference session dedicated to ideas related to critical physiotherapy anywhere in the world – very exciting and innovative for the APA.
For me, it was truly an honour to be part of the critical physiotherapy forum where attendees were encouraged to broaden their perspectives on physiotherapy and healthcare. The presenters captivated the audience with some of their described stories, ideas and experiences. APA member Ian Edward’s accounts of working in Afghanistan and suggestions about ethical obligations in physiotherapy were particularly moving. APA member Blaise Doran’s use of acting methods and theory to consider anticipation of events and provide empathetic communication was inspired and thought provoking. Gwen Owen’s honest description of her constant questioning was refreshing. She also talked passionately about embodiment as a conceptual framework to explore the features of the physiotherapy profession. Finally, Dave Nicholls’ history of physical therapies in New Zealand and subsequent suggestions about the future of physiotherapy as a luxury provided some serious reflection and consideration. I have certainly never before witnessed such a broad array of philosophical reflections about physiotherapy.
“The types of thinking and ideas that were generated at the critical physiotherapy forum are essential for development and evolution.”
Audience questions and panel discussion largely related to thoughts about where the profession is headed in the future. Many were interested in perceptions about the use of technology to assist physiotherapist-patient communication, as an alternative to face-to-face interactions with patients. Concerns about lack of ability to use touch to convey empathy and care through online communication were highlighted as a key concern. Many felt that this use of touch was at the core of the profession but acknowledged that providing a service to the community is essential. There was also discussion about how to teach or learn appropriate cultural sensitivities and practice ethically. All were important questions and it was wonderful to see the audience engaging so positively.
As one of CONNECT 2015’s penultimate sessions, I felt that the critical physiotherapy forum addressed some issues that were discussed more broadly throughout the conference, particularly relating to physiotherapy attrition rates, professional values and approaches to communicating with patients. I believe that these types of discussions are necessary for the physiotherapy profession to remain at the forefront of healthcare in Australia and internationally. The types of thinking and ideas that were generated at the critical physiotherapy forum are essential for development and evolution. Questioning and considering options and possibilities, as well as developing theory, are at the core of professional practice.
I extend my personal thanks to the session chair, Jenny Setchell, APAM, for instigating the critical physiotherapy forum and organising an inspired international range of highly qualified presenters and panel members. It was truly a momentous and positive experience.