The sociologist Anthony Giddens has commented that in the future, the 'normal' body may only be the most basic form of embodiment available to us, and that bodily enhancements like eyes that can zoom, ears with extended hearing range, and designer prosthetic limbs to supplement today's spectacles and hearing aids will vastly extend the bodies of those who can afford them. Some of these innovations sound farfetched, but there's no doubt that the ability to shape and enhance our bodies will be attractive to many people, and will have a big impact on physiotherapy work. If it's possible in the future to have a fully autonomous transport network, it's likely to put an end to most head … [Read more...] about Second skin
A couple of friends sent me things that they thought I'd enjoy this week, and both of them are worth sharing. The first was a quote from a student who is halfway through their final year of study and in the middle of a long block of clinical practice. They were reflecting on their work. They wrote: “Sometimes I feel it can be hard to take off my "physio thinking hat" and put on my human thinking hat.” We should perhaps have a moment's silence just to reflect on that. The second was a paper from 2004 that highlighted the virtues of looking at the obvious and familiar in new ways. The paper is titled Culture on the ground: The World Perceived Through the Feet (link to the full … [Read more...] about Taking off your ‘physio’ head
It's sometimes reassuring to imagine that when the robots finally take over, and all of our mundane repetitive tasks are in the hands of automatons, we will still want and need the comforting touch of real people. I've argued as much myself, suggesting that the future for the physical therapies is assured because people will always want skilled, caring, thoughtful physical touch - the kind of touch no machine will ever be able to replace (Nicholls 2017). But what this argument misses is that its entirely possible for robots to replace physical therapies because they are robots. This point is explored in this beautiful short film by Oliver Schwartz, that explores the relationship a … [Read more...] about Very touching: Physiotherapy in the age of non-human companions
In Nikolas Rose's superb analysis of the history of the 'psy' disciplines (psychology, psychotherapy and psychiatry), he identifies something about psychology that the 'phy' professions (physiotherapy, physical therapy) ought to look very closely at. Rose asks why it is that psychological thinking is all pervasive these days. Psychological ideas have slipped into everyday language and ways of thinking, everyday experiences of tension and sadness have been given psychological names and diagnostic criteria, and there are now whole bookshelves full of self-help guides to managing every aspect of your psychic life. Rose asks how this happened; 'Psychological expertise now holds out the … [Read more...] about Physiotherapy unlimited
I recently had a very enjoyable holiday with my brother who was visiting New Zealand for the first time. At a cafe filled with follies and other quirky craft pieces I asked by brother - who is an accomplished photographer and teacher - what the difference was between an artist and someone's who's good with crafts. His answer has stuck with me ever since. "Artists", he said "deal with problems." The example he used was of Grayson Perry, a ceramicist who makes replica Greek urns. Amongst the ceramics community, Perry's pots divide opinions. Some with a stronger interest in the technical craft of ceramics deride his work as sloppy and poorly constructed. But what makes Perry an … [Read more...] about What’s the difference between a technician and an artist?
I spent the last two weeks in Norway and Denmark, meeting clinicians, lecturers, researchers and students, and generally talking about The End of the Physiotherapy. I spent quite a bit of time talking about the ways physiotherapy might transform itself to adapt to the future, and one of the ideas we kept coming back to was the importance of 'leaving' the profession. I wrote a little about this idea in a blog post just before I set out for Scandinavia, and the subject kept recurring during my visit. The biggest issue for many people seemed to be not so much the need to change, as much as how to change: how to find new ways of thinking and practicing physiotherapy that kept the best of … [Read more...] about Art as therapy
I had a lovely conversation with some colleagues from Tromsø University's School of Physiotherapy on Monday night after my keynote to the Norwegian Physiotherapists' Congress. Having talked about 'The End of Physiotherapy', they asked me a question I seem to be getting asked a lot now. "So" they said, "what's the answer ... what's the future for physiotherapy?" Now it's an absolutely foundational principle for me that it's not my place to tell people 'the answer' (as if there could ever be an answer). And that's partly because I subscribe to a Foucauldian approach to critical thinking that says you don't replace one bad hegemony (or dominant way of viewing the world) with another. But … [Read more...] about Leaving (physiotherapy) home