Manipulating practices: A critical physiotherapy reader

Volume editors:
Barbara E. Gibson, David A. Nicholls, Jenny Setchell, Karen Synne Groven
Chapter authors:
Barbara E. Gibson, David A. Nicholls, Jenny Setchell, Karen Synne Groven, Ukachukwu Abaraogu, Birgitte Ahlsen, Wenche S. Bjorbækmo, Tone Dahl-Michelsen, Clare Delany, Blaise Doran, Nicole M. Glenn, Amy Hiller, Roger Kerry, Fiona Moffatt, Anna Ilona Rajala, Michael Rowe, James A. Shaw, Kari Nyheim Solbrække, Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann, Karen Yoshida


Manipulating practices is the first ever collection of critical physiotherapy studies and comes at a time of unprecedented change in the profession. Written as a collaboration between 20 authors, many members of the Critical Physiotherapy Network (CPN), the book uncovers the growing body of critical thinking now emerging in physiotherapy. From topics as diverse as 21st century education, ethics, evidence-based practice, touch, and equine therapy; and approaches as varied as disability and performance studies, feminism, logic, narrative theory, new materialism, and phenomenology, the book explores ways of thinking ‘otherwise’ about physiotherapy.

Over 16 chapters written by authors from six different countries, Manipulating practices offers insights from some of physiotherapy’s most radical thinkers. The book is also an innovative venture into open source publishing, making it entirely free to download and read. In keeping with the objectives of the CPN, the chapters expose a range of concepts, ideas and practices to critical scrutiny, and reflect the profession’s growing interest in critiquing taken-for-granted ways of practicing and thinking.

Manipulating practices will be of interest to clinicians, lecturers, policy-makers, researchers and students, and will provide new impetus to help physiotherapists imagine how the profession might grow and develop into the future.


«Manipulating practices» er den første vitenskapelige antologien som samler kritiske studier innen fysioterapi, og lanseres i en tid der profesjonen er preget av store forandringer. Antologien representerer et samarbeidsprosjekt mellom 20 forskere, hvor majoriteten er medlemmer av Critical Physiotherapy Network (CNP) – et internasjonalt nettverk av forskere og klinikere fra hele verden. Antologien synliggjør den økende tendensen til kritisk tenkning som er i ferd med å vokse frem innenfor fysioterapi. 

Gjennom å fokusere på varierte tema som utdanning, etikk, evidensbasert praksis, berøring og ridefysioterapi, samt en bred tilnærming som inkluderer funksjonshemming, performance-studier, feminisme, logikk, narrativ teori, ny materialisme og fenomenologi, utforsker antologien nye og annerledes tanker om fysioterapi som fag og profesjon. 

Antologiens 16 kapitler er skrevet av forskere fra seks ulike land og gir innsikt i forskningen til noen av de mest radikale forskerne i det internasjonale fysioterapimiljøet. Boken er også innovativ gjennom at den publiseres som open access, hvilket betyr at den kan lastes ned og leses gratis og dermed gjøres allment tilgjengelig.  I tråd med ambisjonen for CPN, utforskes en rekke ulike begreper, ideer og praktiske tilnærminger relatert til kritisk tenkning innenfor fysioterapi. Slik gjenspeiles også profesjonens økende interesse for å kritisere etablerte måter å praktisere og tenke på, som tidligere har vært tatt for gitt.

«Manipulating practices» vil være av interesse for forskere, klinikere, forelesere, politikere og studenter. Antologien vil forhåpentligvis bidra med nye impulser med henblikk på hvordan fysioterapiprofesjonen vil vokse og utvikle seg fremover.


Author Biographies

Barbara E. Gibson

Barbara E. Gibson is a physical therapist and bioethicist whose research investigates how social, cultural, and institutional practices intersect in producing health, inclusion/exclusion, and identity with disabled young people. She has led two books aimed at transforming rehabilitation practices, Rethinking Rehabilitation Theory and Practice (co-editor) and Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach, and is a co-founder of the Critical Physiotherapy Network. She has over 60 peer reviewed publications and holds the Bloorview Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Childhood Disability Studies.

David A. Nicholls

David A. Nicholls is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies, AUT University, Auckland (New Zealand). He is a physiotherapist, lecturer, researcher and writer, and the founder of the Critical Physiotherapy Network. His research focuses on the past, present and future for physiotherapy. David has published and presented widely over the last 25 years, including the first book-length critical history of physiotherapy title The End of Physiotherapy, published by Routledge in mid-2017.

Jenny Setchell

Jenny Setchell holds conjoint Research Fellowships at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland(Australia), and Bloorview Research Institute, Holland BloorviewHospital (Canada). Her research interests include critical perspective on healthcare broadly, and physiotherapy specifically. Jenny’s PhD was in psychology, focussing on weight stigma in physiotherapy. She has 20 years of diverse clinical physiotherapy experience, primarily in the musculoskeletal and sports sub-disciplines. Jenny is a founding member of, and co-chairs, the Critical Physiotherapy Network. She has also been an acrobat and a human rights worker.

Karen Synne Groven

Karen Synne Groven is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiotherapy at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, and holds a postdoctoral position in the Institute of Health and Society at the University of Oslo, where she is currently engaged in a project exploring children’s and adolescents’
experiences of participating in group-based lifestyle programs. Groven’s research interests are in the fields of obesity, long-term illness and pain. In her research, Groven is inspired by theoretical perspectives in the areas of phenomenology, ethics and post-critical theories.

Ukachukwu Abaraogu

Ukachukwu Abaraogu is a Lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Department of Medical Rehabilitation (Nigeria), and PhD candidate at the Glasgow Caledonian University, School of Health and Life Sciences, (United Kingdom). He has cumulative 9 years experience in the clinical musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and women health physiotherapy. Ukachukwu’s research interest is currently focused on complex interventions in non-communicable disease, and critical physiotherapy thinking. He has more than 35 original journal articles. Ukachukwu is currently a co-applicant in a Chief Scientist Office Scotland funded research grant.

Birgitte Ahlsen

Birgitte Ahlsen is an Associate Professor at the Department of Physiotherapy, Oslo and Akershus University of Applied Sciences. Her research interests include critical perspectives on medicine, healthcare and physiotherapy. Birgitte’s PhD focused on the role of gender in narratives of chronic muscle pain. Her present research project focuses on knowledge production and -translation in physiotherapy practice. She has 25 years of diverse clinical experiences. She is a specialist in (Norwegian) psychomotor physiotherapy, with responsibility for continuing
professional development courses in this area of expertise.

Wenche S. Bjorbækmo

Wenche S. Bjorbækmo is a researcher at the Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Norway. Her research interests include phenomenological research approaches, body and movement, function as ability/ disability and physiotherapy theory and practice with a special focus on knowledge expressed, developed and shared in clinical practices. Wenche’s PhD was in health sciences, focussing on children defined as disabled and their experiences with moving in different contexts. She has a speciality in physiotherapy with children, and several years of work experience.

Tone Dahl-Michelsen

Tone Dahl-Michelsen is an Associate Professor at the Department of physiotherapy at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science. In her PhD, she explored the significance of gender in physiotherapy education. Her research interests in particular concern physiotherapy education, including topics as the interaction of the past and present history of the physiotherapy profession, evidence-based practice, ethics and gender issues. Her interests also include students learning, internationalization, curriculum design
and learning outcomes.

Clare Delany

Clare Delany is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Education, Melbourne Medical School, Australia.In clinical education, Clare’s research and publications cover clinical reasoning, professional ethics and resilience in health professional learning. Clare also works as a clinical ethicist at the Royal Children’s Hospital Children’s Bioethics Centre in Melbourne conducting clinical ethics consultations and research in paediatric bioethics, with a particular focus on ethical challenges encountered by allied health professionals.

Blaise Doran

Blaise Doran originally trained and worked in the UK. He is a physiotherapist and the coordinator for the Children’s Pain Management Clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Previously he worked predominantly in adult neurological rehabilitation. Prior to undertaking his physiotherapy degree, he worked for ten years as a professional actor, primarily in subsidised regional theatres in the UK. He is a member of the Critical Physiotherapy Network.

Nicole M. Glenn

Nicole M. Glenn is a Canadian Institutes of Health Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine in the School of Public Health at the Université de Montréal where she works under the direction of Dr. Kate Frohlich. She completed her PhD at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. Her research interests include understanding experiences related to socio-spatial health inequities, body weight (loss), and bariatric surgery. She conducts qualitative research and often uses phenomenological

Amy Hiller

Amy Hiller is an Australian Physiotherapy Association titled musculoskeletal physiotherapist with over ten years of clinical experience. Through her clinical and educator roles, Amy developed a particular interest in the interactional aspects of physiotherapy. Her research primarily focuses on developing knowledge abouthow patients and physiotherapists communicate with each other. Currently, in addition to her research, Amy teaches qualitative research methods and approaches to physiotherapy practice in the Department of Physiotherapy at The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Roger Kerry

Roger Kerry is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at University of Nottingham, UK. He is a Chartered Physiotherapist and an honorary Fellow of the UK’s Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists. His clinical research focuses on adverse events of physiotherapy interventions. His academic research is on the philosophy of science, investigating the nature of causation in the health sciences. He is the UK lead of the CauseHealth project. Roger also plays guitar and banjo in one of the UK’s leading Skiffle bands.

Fiona Moffatt

Fiona Moffatt is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Assistant Professor in the Division of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Nottingham, UK. Her clinical and research interests are in critical care, dysfunctional breathing, implementation science, and productivity. She is also a social scientist and sociologist with an interest in sociology of the professions, Foucauldian governmentality and identity. She has published and presented in internationally recognised fora and is motivated by understanding the social dimensions and impact of the profession.

Anna Ilona Rajala

Anna Ilona Rajala is a physiotherapist finishing her philosophy PhD at the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics, School of Humanities, University of Brighton, where she also teaches part-time. Anna is interested broadly in healthcare, critical philosophy and humanities. Her current research interests include theories of recognition, the body, dialectics, medical humanities, Shakespeare, and Frankfurt School critical theory. Her peerreviewed publications include a book chapter “On the value of embodied long-term care” written in Finnish. She also writes a regular column for the Finnish Association of Physiotherapists.

Michael Rowe

Michael Rowe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape (South Africa). He conducts research into the use of digital technologies in the classroom and their influence on teacher and student relationships as part of teaching and learning practice. His PhD evaluated the use of technology-mediated practices for clinical education, and led to the development of design principles for blended learning environments in the health professions. He is the editor of OpenPhysio, an open access journal with a focus on physiotherapy education.

James A. Shaw

James A. Shaw is a Scientist at the Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care at Women’s College Hospital, and an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, Canada. His research focuses on the institutions that govern health systems and the ways in which those institutions reinforce the status quo or encourage system change. He draws on a variety of theoretical perspectives in his work, including neo-institutional theory and recent advances in Science and Technology Studies (STS).

Kari Nyheim Solbrække

Kari Nyheim Solbrække holds a Dr. polit in sociology and is professor at the Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo. Her main research interests are medical sociology, critical gender studies, narrative approaches to health and illness, medicalization andassisted reproductive technology. Her latest publications include “Our genes, our selves: hereditary breast cancer and biological citizenship in Norway” in Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy and “Breast-cancer-isation explored: Social experiences of gynaecological cancer in a Norwegian context” in Sociology of Health and Illness (2016).

Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann

Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann is Associate Professor affiliated to Department of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Radiography, and to the Center for Care Research, both at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Tobba also has a part-time position as riding physiotherapist. Her research interests focus on patient-therapist relations, micro-interaction and structural conditions for social participation, and include anti-oppressive practice in dementia care, outdoor physiotherapy, technology in healthcare, and priority setting in health care. Her clinical experience is from hospital departments of neurology/orthopedics/neurosurgery, as supervisor and as head of the physiotherapy departments.

Karen Yoshida

Karen Yoshida is Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Science Institute and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She received her PhD in Community Health (Sociology of Health) in 1991 at the University of Toronto. Karen Yoshida is a Critical Disability Studies (CDS) and feminist scholar, ally and activist. Her teaching of CDS and research is community and partnership-based with various disability communities. Her research interests include Disability History, arts-based research, disability leadership, embodiment, and disabled women and their health.

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January 8, 2018


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