The body and physiotherapy

Physiother Theory Pract. 2010 Nov;26(8):497-509. doi: 10.3109/09593981003710316. Epub 2010 Aug 26.


In recent years, physiotherapists have been increasingly interested in defining their professional identity. At the heart of this interest lies a fundamental question about the role that the body plays in defining physiotherapy practice. Given the importance of the body to physiotherapy, it is surprising how under-theorized the body is in existing physiotherapy literature. With a few notable exceptions, the body as a philosophical/theoretical construct has been almost entirely bypassed by the profession. In this paper the authors argue that a renewed interest in the meaning given to the body by physiotherapists is timely, and offer a sociohistorical critique of the role the body has played in defining physiotherapy practice. We challenge physiotherapists' longstanding affinity with a biomechanical view of the body, arguing that whilst this approach may have been critically important in the past, it is now increasingly clear that a more diverse and inclusive approach to the body will be needed in the future. The authors explore the notion of embodiment and suggest ways in which embodiment theory might be applied to physiotherapy practice.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Specialty* / history
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Professional Competence*
  • Professional Role*
  • Social Perception
  • Societies, Scientific