Critical Physiotherapy: A Ten-Year Retrospective

Nicholls, DA
Ahlsen, B
Bjorbækmo, W
Dahl-Michelsen, T
Höppner, H
Rajala, AI
Richter, R
Hansen, LS
Sudmann, T
Sviland, R
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Informa UK Limited

Critical physiotherapy has been a rapidly expanding field over the last decade and could now justifiably be called a professional sub-discipline. In this paper we define three different but somewhat interconnected critical positions that have emerged over the last decade that share a critique of physiotherapy’s historical approach to health and illness, while also diverging in the possibilities for new forms of practice and thinking. These three positions broadly align with three distinctive philosophies: approaches that emphasize lived experience, social theory, and a range of philosophies increasingly referred to as the “posts”. In this paper we discuss the origins of these approaches, exploring the ways they critique contemporary physiotherapy thinking and practice. We offer an overview of the key principles of each approach and, for each in turn, suggest readings from key authors. We conclude each section by discussing the limits of these various approaches, but also indicate ways in which they might inform future thinking and practice. We end the paper by arguing that the various approaches that now fall under the rubric of critical physiotherapy represent some of the most exciting and opportune ways we might (re)think the future for the physiotherapy profession and the physical therapies more generally.

Critical physiotherapy , epistemology , lived experience , ontology , post , social theory , 4201 Allied Health and Rehabilitation Science , 42 Health Sciences , Generic health relevance , 1103 Clinical Sciences , 1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences , Rehabilitation , 4201 Allied health and rehabilitation science
Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, ISSN: 0959-3985 (Print); 1532-5040 (Online), Informa UK Limited, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print), 1-13. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2023.2252524
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