Sadly, it seems we cannot escape the fact that many physiotherapists now believe that part of the answer to the problems now facing the profession can be resolved, at least in part, by telling people to lose weight, stop smoking, and get more exercise.
The need to feel part of the move towards population-based primary health care has induced many traditional and orthodox health professionals to scratch their heads and ask what their social function will be in the future.
It seems reasonably clear that traditional sources of work, like the specialist care that once took place in large hospitals, and the routine self-limiting, acute musculoskeletal disorders that made up significant amounts of private practice work, are in terminal decline.
But based on the opinions of ‘Leading physiotherapists from the UK, Canada and Australia’ who ‘led a symposium at the IFOMPT conference in Glasgow’ recently, the answer lies in merely ‘getting patients active’ (link).
Non-specific physical activity may well be an important response to the growing concerns around lifestyle disorders, but surely we should be asking whether it requires someone with an expensive three- or four-year training and years of experience with complex co-morbidity to tell someone to lose weight and get more exercise?
Surely the future of the profession lies in more complex health issues than this?
But then perhaps this desire to move into the occupy the mundane end of public health care speaks more to our inability to imagine where the funding will come from for the kind of work that we really should be doing?