Physiopunk: Using Speculative Fiction to Explore Future Physiotherapies

Today’s diverse social, ecological and health
challenges require the development of many different visions for new physiotherapies. Physiopunk gives us a glimpse into the future.

OpenPhysio was created with the aim of exploring alternatives to how we typically think about sharing ideas in physiotherapy education. And to this end we’re proud to announce the publication of Volume 1 of the Physiopunk project, an initiative from students and lecturers at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

Read Vol 1 of Physiopunk

Environmental and sustainability education is often conspicuous in its absence from public health and healthcare professional programmes around the world. Yet to respond to the diverse and complex social, ecological and health challenges we are facing everywhere today it will have to be firmly integrated to support the development of many different visions for new physiotherapies. These visions will have to be conjured, thought about and communicated collaboratively, in many different places and many different languages.

Physiopunk integrates concepts from planetary health with speculative fiction genres, in a new approach to how we think about physiotherapy education. The project and genre emerged out of an introductory public health module for first-year physiotherapy students at UiT, which aimed to expand student’s view of physiotherapy practice for individual physical health toward the focal integration of social and ecological determinants of health.

“…‘punk’ is used to represent a radically different, but hopeful future”

Driven by the idea that imagination can help us get ahead of the curve, students were introduced to genres like science fiction, climate- and eco-fiction, solar- and hopepunk (where ‘punk’ is used to represent a radically different, but hopeful future) and supported to develop diverse compelling narratives for future healthcare and society in general. Their stories included visions of transformative forms of urban life on and below land and water, indigenous health leadership, working for clean air and green infrastructure, physiotherapy on Mars, multispecies coexistence, artificial intelligence, robotics, and many more.

Seen through the eyes of these students, we are invited to let go of established conventions and question what physiotherapy might be in the future, in a manner filled with creativity and genuine care for the health of everyone we share this planet with. In stretching beyond the momentarily realistic, the implicit and maybe most important goal of this project was to inspire people who dare to think, dream, be creative and so develop the imagination, flexibility and playfulness needed for radical transformations toward sustainability in a world defined by complexity, diversity, and uncertainty.

Read volume 1 of Physiopunk now.