Last week, we had the first meeting of executive of the new International Physiotherapy History Association (IPHA), and one of the items on the agenda was a proposal to host a Focused Symposium on physiotherapy history at next year's WCPT Congress in Geneva. We've got some fabulous ideas for topics, including possible talks on the history of non-medical prescribing, the roots of manual therapy, the German gymnastic movement in 1920s and 30s,and the history of needling therapies. Thinking about a theme that ties them together has been an interesting process. Physiotherapy's longstanding affinity with biomedicine might well win out, but an equally powerful discourse running through … [Read more...] about Women’s work – the handmade history of physiotherapy
Cast your mind back to your days as a physiotherapy student. Did any of your lecturers ever change what or how they were taught based on the personalities of the people in the class? Was the subject of the session changed from the lesson plan to reflect an individual or group's cultural beliefs and values? My suspicion is probably not, or if it did happen, it didn't happen much when you were learning anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinesiology, biomechanics, assessment or treatment techniques, research methods, or any of the other 'core' subjects in the physiotherapy curriculum. I once shared an office with a lecturer who had very devout faith, and I often wondered how she reconciled … [Read more...] about There is no ‘you’ in physiotherapy
The work of Judith Butler has had hugely influence within different field of critical thinkers and her book Gender Trouble (1990) is regarded as a ‘break through’ within gender studies. It contributed a radical shift in how we came to see ourselves as gendered beings. The main point is that individuals ‘become gendered’ through performative acts. This gives individuals agency, however, the performativity of gender takes place in relation to certain gender norms within a context. Judith Butler sees both sex and gender as something that becomes ‘reality’ through performing. This concerns ontology and is a controversial point within her theory. I was introduced to the thinking of Judith … [Read more...] about Tone Dahl-Michelsen – Gender trouble – 30DoS #11
A recent article in The Conversation explored how training to be a surgeon subtly marginalised women and promoted the idea that surgery was a man's world (link). Surgical training was described as 'powerful, visible, gendered and discriminatory'. Over the last few months I've been writing and thinking a lot about the gendering of physiotherapy. Much of that has revolved around the ways that women masseuses in World War I first came into contact with young male bodies, and the brutal ways they went about rehabilitating them. (The image above is from a classic series of postcards that depicted the dominating and and fearful WWI masseuse - see Carden-Coyne, 2008). Anders Ottosson's … [Read more...] about Does physiotherapy’s hidden curriculum exclude men?
I've recently been reading quite a lot of new historical writing around the early history of physiotherapy. Much of it has concentrated on the effect of the First World War on the profession in North America, Britain and the Antipodes, but I've also been reading Anders Ottosson's excellent, and provocative recent papers. Many of you will know of Anders's work, especially his paper The manipulated history of manipulations of spines and joints (pdf) and his thesis Sjukgymnasten - vart tog han vägen?: En undersökning av sjukgymnastyrkets maskulinisering och avmaskulinisering 1813-1934, which argue that physiotherapy originated with the mechano-therapy and medical gymnastics of Pehr Henrik … [Read more...] about When was physiotherapy born?
People often think that philosophy and sociology are concerned with grand ideas like hope, suffering, the meaning of existence, and what it means to be good. And while it can be about these things, it often concerns things that are commonplace, everyday and quotidian (a lovely word, meaning occurring everyday, mundane and repeated). The latest special issue of the journal Sociology (link) is devoted to the study of everyday life and asks some really interesting questions that we can use in our thinking and practice of physiotherapy. In the guest editorial, Sarah Neal and Karim Murji argue that, 'In many ways, it is difficult to overstate the significance of the everyday because it is, … [Read more...] about The sociology of everyday
Gender is an issue that has become increasingly important in physiotherapy scholarship in recent years. The first time research by a physiotherapist that specifically addressed this question was a paper by Anne Parry with what must still be the best title for any research paper ever written: Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did backwards and in high heels (pdf). The paper still resonates strongly with me and has some important things to say about our professions gendered history. Anders Ottosson's seminal work on the 'feminization' of physiotherapy in 19th century still stands as one of the most important works on the subject, but there are other important works too, and these … [Read more...] about Three theses on gender and physiotherapy