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CONNECTed: Discovering the unexpected by challenging the interface between physiotherapy specialities

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JOP ORATION – CONNECTED: DISCOVERING THE UNEXPECTED BY CHALLENGING THE INTERFACE BETWEEN PHYSIOTHERAPY SPECIALTIES

Presenter: Hodges PW

Physiotherapy as a profession has involved a tug-of-war between the

maturation of our sub-disciplines/specialties (e.g. musculoskeletal;

cardiopulmonary; neurological physiotherapy; etc), and the necessity to

draw on our unique multidimensional understanding of body systems to

consider the “whole person” in the derivation of treatment. Research in the

mainstream of each specialty is making great advances for the evidence

base of physiotherapy. By necessity, much of this work must ignore or

exclude consideration of other domains (e.g. patients with comorbid

conditions are generally excluded from clinical trials). Yet sometimes we

can make exciting new discoveries and conceptual leaps if we peer over

the divisions between our sub-disciplines, if we apply findings from one

sub-discipline to another, or if we wear the glasses of one sub-discipline

when looking at the problems/challenges of another. Some examples

of such leaps that have spearheaded a host of new opportunities for

rehabilitation include: application of contemporary understanding of

neuroplasticity from neurology to musculoskeletal conditions; application

of biomechanics and neuromechanics from musculoskeletal physiotherapy

to challenges in continence; and application of understanding of pelvic

floor and breathing disorders to management of back pain. There are many

more examples. Whichever way we progress as professionals, we can only

benefit from maintaining a dual focus on specialisation and our underlying

skills as generalists.

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