Over the last few weeks, we’ve been running a series of blog posts on the biomedical model. Biomedicine is, without doubt, one of the most powerful discourse affecting the way physiotherapists think and practice, but it is also rarely explained or explored. So over the next few blog posts I’ll be unpacking its essential features. The first two posts in the series focused on specific aetiology and germ theory. In this post, we’re going to tackle Cartesian Dualism. Cartesian Dualism gets it’s name from the work of the French skeptical philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) who, perhaps more than anyone, captured the zeitgeist of the Renaissance by defining a distinction between the mind … [Read more...] about What is the biomedical model #3
What does work mean to physiotherapists? A recent article in the journal Qualitative Health Research highlighted some of the different meanings of work for 12 women with cancer (link). One of the most interesting findings from the study was that there were many different kinds of work experienced by the women, including “illness work, body work, identity work, everyday work, paid employment and/or the work of maintaining income, and coordination work”. When you include things like the work of breathing and professional work, you have a concept that is both at the heart of physiotherapy practice, and yet almost entirely un-theorised. Work has a particularly interesting history, … [Read more...] about Different kinds of work
MECHANICAL MEDICINE Exploring the History of Healing by Exercise, Manipulation and Massage. 23 May 2019, Science Museum, London. A symposium at the Science Museum, London, organised by Dr Kay Nias (Medicine Galleries Research Fellow). ‘Physical medicine’ or ‘physical therapy’ has ancient origins. For thousands of years, people with illnesses and disabilities have been treated with physio-therapeutic techniques including exercise, manipulation and massage, as well as air, water, heat and cold, electricity and light. These various healing methods have rich and diverse histories that span time, cultures and medical traditions. While documentary evidence representing the … [Read more...] about Call for Papers: Mechanical medicine – Exploring the History of Healing by Exercise, Manipulation and Massage.
A few months ago a new international group was formed by people interested in the history of physiotherapy. The International Physiotherapy History Association (IPHA) is a collection of clinicians, policy-makers, researchers, students and teachers, who are interested in bringing physiotherapy history alive. The group will be working over the next few years to promote the history of physiotherapy as a resource for present-day practice, professional decision-making, management and leadership, teaching, and regulation; to celebrate our past; challenge the profession to learn from its history; and support the safe archiving for future generations. But why now? Well perhaps the group … [Read more...] about Are you interested in the history of physiotherapy?
David Armstrong described in his brilliant book A New History of Identity how exercise and specifically posture had been utilised as tools of social engineering in the late 19th century (Armstrong 2002). When we think of a person's attitude today, we often think of it as being about their response to authority, but it was originally a term used to describe a child's standing posture. Towards the end of the 1800s governments throughout Europe and North America grew increasingly concerned about the fitness and strength of its citizens and began to think about ways to discipline children before they became slovenly. Military-style drilling and massed social calisthenics were encouraged, … [Read more...] about Reading personality into people’s movements
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
I'm preparing for a keynote lecture at the APA Conference in Sydney in a couple of weeks time, looking at aged care as a 'bellwether' of the physiotherapy profession at large. (Spoiler alert if you're going) I'm going to argue that if we can work out how to provide meaningful physiotherapy to older adults, we'll fix a lot of the problems now besetting the rest of the profession (abstract here). Part of the joy of this kind of work is the opportunity it gives you to think 'otherwise' about seemingly obvious, taken-for-granted things, like ageing as a natural biological process, or our inalienable role as the leaders of rehabilitation for the elderly and disabled. Testing why we think … [Read more...] about An accident waiting to happen