The Civil Rights of Disabled Children in Physiotherapy Practices
Purpose This study aimed to explore the experiences of civil rights of disabled children receiving physiotherapy in New Zealand. As yet there is limited attention given to this topic in rehabilitation literature.
Methods We conducted a qualitative study that drew on the fields of childhood studies and disability studies to address the study aim. Seven disabled children who used local physiotherapy services (aged between four and 14 years) were interviewed using child-centered methods. In addition, their parents were interviewed individually, and eight rehabilitation professionals and disability advocates took part in a focus group discussion. Interpretive thematic analysis was used to analyze findings.
Findings The participating disabled children all appreciated being informed about physiotherapy, but had individual preferences regarding involvement in decision making. They described positive and negative influences on their experiences, but indicated they may not have been asked by adults about these. Parents, professionals and advocates described that attempting to promote a positive experience for children is constrained by understandings regarding the purposes and practices of physiotherapy.
Conclusions Our findings suggest it is important to get an understanding of individual children’s views and preferences regarding physiotherapy in order to promote opportunities for choice, control and satisfaction. In this way physiotherapists can ensure disabled children’s civil rights are realized in practice.