I came to physiotherapy later in life. My previous life was as an actor (professional, occasionally paid) and I did that for 10 years. I did love being an actor (when I was in work), but the business can be brutal and it can be easy to lose sight of one’s values, so I gave it away in 1999. I had around 2 years of doing a ‘proper job’ while training part time as a massage therapist. I realised once I started to do massage, that I desired more from it than it could deliver, and began to look into training in other manual therapies. I settled on physiotherapy after going on a two-day observational placement at Kings College Hospital in London. This was designed to show school leavers what the breadth of physiotherapy scope of practice was, and being 34, along side a 17 year old school leaver was somewhat comical for the physiotherapists showing us around. Wisely, I think, they started with geriatric orthopaedics, then paediatric respiratory, neurosurgery, and so on through a gamut of other specialised areas, and ending the second day with musculoskeletal outpatients. Needless to say, I was sold.
Other than my base-grade rotational posts, for much of my physiotherapy career, I focused on neurology. I have worked in some of the expected areas (such as stroke and ABI), some unexpected areas (neuromuscular disorders, such as MND and polio), and along acute to chronic treatment continuum. I have had some brief forays into aged care and palliative rehabilitation. Along the way, I gained a graduate diploma in neurological rehabilitation. As part of that journey in neurology, I developed an interest in pain management. It has been a through-line in stroke, ABI, polio, aged care and palliative care. I took a punt (as my boss did on me) and applied for a job in paediatric chronic pain management at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Somewhat surprisingly (to me at least), all my previous skills appeared to be a good fit. It is complex and at times filled with uncertainty; I like surfing both. Along the way, I have gained an MSc in Pain Management.
The collective histories and philosophies that underpin physiotherapy have been a growing fascination for me. Early in my career, I was focused on just that – ‘progressing’ into my chosen specialism. As time has gone on, I have realised that it was the people who have come to me for treatment, and one or two of my work colleagues, who have helped me to question what I do, and why I do it, in the context of human interaction (rather than exclusively clinical frameworks). Why have our health systems evolved in the way they have? Why are some people labeled as they are? Why do we do it this way, and not that way? Who is gaining, who is losing? I cannot even remember how I discovered that Dave Nichols had put a call out for people who were interested to join the Critical Physiotherapy Network. I thought it would be for academics only (and I am no academic), but in keeping with the spirit of an otherwise physiotherapy thankfully membership was not restricted in that way.
I have a diverse interest in philosophy, ethics, music, art, and performance. I try to use critical thinking to prise off the barnacles of customary ways of approaching physiotherapy, and look for pragmatic ways to apply my areas of interest into my own practice. Very interested in sociological perspectives of persistent pain, and qualitative research.
Relevant critical publications (up to 10):
Doran, B and Setchell, J (2018) Performative acts of physiotherapy. Chapter 5 in Gibson BE, Nicholls D, Setchell J, Synne Groven K. (2018) Manipulating practices: A critical physiotherapy reader. Oslo, Norway. Cappelen Damm.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Location (city/town, country): Melbourne, Australia
Current position(s): Clinic coordinator and physiotherapist, Children’s Pain Management Clinic, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne