Will Physiopedia Replace Textbooks?

In 2009 Rachael Lowe created a free online, open-source, evidence-based resource to share Physiotherapy knowledge with any physiotherapist, anywhere in the world who has access to an internet connection – A Wikipedia for Physiotherapists! At the time it was impossible to know how the creation of Physiopedia would change the way our profession learned and shared knowledge but in hindsight now it can be defined as nothing other than a paradigm shift.

Historically health information has been presented in textbooks or research articles published in scientific and health journals. Textbooks aimed to explain the fundamentals of health covering topics such as anatomy, physiology, and assessment and treatment. We all have those “go-to” books that we were first introduced to as students but the downside to that is that information evolves, and we often find ourselves turning to research articles to access the latest knowledge and best evidence. But searching through the literature is not always perfect:

This all takes time, knowledge and energy which is not ideal for those therapists who are dedicated to clinic time and patient care.

With the creation of the internet, the dissemination of knowledge and access to information changed. First came Electronic books, more commonly known as eBooks, a concept created in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, twenty years before the world wide web hit our screens. The first eBook to ever be created was the U.S. Declaration of Independence – a coincidence or a sign of the future?

Although books in print make up a large percentage of our reading and learning material many authors also publish their works on the eBook platform which is great and convenient, but it is still only a book in electronic format.

This is what has made the internet and the world wide web so popular. People can search for a wide range of topics and source the latest evidence. But this can be time-consuming and the reliability of the information is not always known. Rachael Lowe had a vision to change all this and bring credible, evidence-based information to a worldwide audience.

This is why so many people searching for physiotherapy information are now heading to Physiopedia. It provides readers with the best learning experience and it is not just students who are using the resource but established clinicians and members of the public too. Physiopedia is essentially a Wikipedia for physiotherapists, it makes use of the innovative wiki platform enabling any qualified physiotherapist from anywhere around the globe to contribute and edit content. It is built around collaborative group authoring, with the aim of gathering the sum of all physiotherapy knowledge and making it freely available to all (including the public).

A book is easy to search for information and any good author would have used the best resources and evidence available to him at that time, but unless they make it their job to continually update and reprint their work of art it can be outdated before it has even hit the shelves, so the alternative is to leaf through your book and then validate the text by searching online but all of that takes time and raises the question of how relevant the information is and are the sources reliable? But who determines just what is relevant?  But what if there was an easier way, what if the internet could be turned into a textbook. All the relevant background information supported by the latest evidence and research. Voila! Physiopedia come on down (only relevant if you watch games shows on TV!).

Physiopedia aims to reduce what is irrelevant and produces information that is not biased but follows the latest ‘credible’ evidence published.

There are people all over the world that have now set aside their traditional textbooks and endless research papers (that can often be hard to decipher and irrelevant) in favour of a one-stop resource. Physiopedia is doing just that. In fact, Physiopedia is more than just a source of knowledge it represents much more. It is:

  • Collaborative – having global contributions means that information can be transferable and relevant.
  • Current – constant edits and reviews from volunteers and members of the physiotherapy community allows for recent developments and new protocols to be instantly available.
  • Reflective of physiotherapy – as an ever-evolving profession, we must now be flexible with our clinical practice reflecting current thinking and new research. This helps to keep our profession fresh and current. Treatments are no longer based on anecdotal treatment protocols. Treatments now must be proven to be effective and cost-efficient.
  • An education tool – Being part of Physiopedia and the process of developing and reviewing pages can contribute to lifelong learning and CPD. People are busier than ever and finding time to attend courses to provide proof of learning can be difficult, this is an amazing alternative.
  • Promotes the profession as forward-thinking and up to date. The profession is no longer happy to rely on anecdotal treatments patients and management want to know that the best treatment is available and cost-effective.

But how can we achieve all of this?  Well, this is where Physiopedia becomes invaluable, unlike a textbook, everything is there at your fingertips and can be updated on-demand as information changes. Imagine reading a textbook and coming across a word or technique that you are unsure of “click” and you have been directed to more information without leafing through endless books and hundreds of pages to find the relevant information. But don’t just take our word for it. There are hospital departments and clinics who have put aside their books and set up Physiopedia on a dedicated computer as their main library and “go-to” resource.

So, what makes Physiopedia such a great resource? Is it the team of Rachael and Tony and the loyal volunteers or the demands created by new technology for instant access to information or the new generation who have a thirst for knowledge?  The answer is probably all the above but without Rachael’s vision the project would never have started. It is a bit like the conundrum what came first the Chicken or the Egg? It almost seems that one could not exist without the other!

Another advantage of using this online resource instead of a book is that it caters for all types of learners, whether you learn through words, pictures and/or videos Physiopedia has it all!!  If you are still not convinced visit Physiopedia and look at all the information that is available to you at the touch of a button!