At this time of year, many people around the world may be in full swing of the festive season. Often this is a time of coming together, rejoicing and sharing. Although not everybody gets to experience the picture perfect festive season, as this can also be a time of loneliness and remembrance.
Therefore in this blog I wanted to stray from my usual topic of HIV and Physiotherapy. Instead I wanted to discuss connectivity and highlight how connected we can be and how important connectivity is for all of us.
So what is connectivity? Simply it is about being connected, achieved by a number of ways or platforms. Often social media is discussed in terms of connectivity in the way that it connects people, creating not only economic but social capital through these connections.
I’ve always been surprised how the Physiotherapy community always seems to beat the “6 degrees of separation” theory. I always presumed Physiotherapy was a small world, or highly connected. But it was in 2015 at the WCPT Congress in Singapore, that I truly learned how connected the Physiotherapy community was. The creation of #GlobalPT as a hashtag for Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, has transformed my awareness of how connected the global Physiotherapy community really is. I am constantly amazed how Physiotherapists globally are utilising #GlobalPT to translate and share knowledge, advocate for services and education, and raise the profile of Physiotherapy internationally to an ever-increasing audience of interested people. There is no hierarchy with utilising social media in this way, which means that everybody can have a voice, can be part of the conversation and join the global Physiotherapy community.
Great examples of connectivity are @exerciseworks and @physiopedia who have transformed how I interact with the Physiotherapy community. It is through such methods of connectivity, by tweeting at conferences or events, and being willing to engage with wider communities, that I was granted the opportunity to write these blogs.
Within my specialism of HIV, disability and rehabilitation, taking advantage of social media connectivity has been integral to my personal and professional development as I discussed in a shoPTalk blog for the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. Without this easily accessible method of connecting with my peers and beyond, I would feel like I am a lone island. But instead I am aware, engaged, and evolving, because of this connectivity between HIV Physiotherapists, academics, community members and beyond. There are amazing Twitter resources about HIV, Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy such #RehabHIV, IPT-HOPE, Realize, CIHRRC and RHIVA, which are also available on Facebook as pages or groups to join eg: IPT-HOPE, Realize and RHIVA. Then there are the Physiotherapists themselves on Twitter from all over the world such as Kelly O’Brien, Patty Solomon, Hellen Myezwa, Mary-Lou Galantino, Rebecca Mullin, Blake George, Carrie-Anne Wood, Hannah Strudley, Puja Ahluwalia, Stephanie Nixon and many more. There are also the community members who raise awareness and promote the role of Physiotherapy such as Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco, Matthew Hodson and Tamas Bereczky. Along with other health professionals, who are advocates of Physiotherapy for people living with HIV such as Richard Harding, Allison Webel, Tristan Barber, Laura Waters and Marta Boffito to name a few. I want to thank all of these people and many more for being connected.
Social media platforms can create positive outcomes, however as highlighted in a recent blog by Matthew Hodson; “social media platforms do not always create an environment for better understanding”. So I am extremely happy to see how connectivity can be used to connect people, advocate, share knowledge and enable a community to emerge. The inspiration of #GlobalPT has now been translated to connect the LGBTIQ community of Physiotherapists globally using #LGBTIQPhysio. I am very excited to see how this connectivity develops.
So as the year comes to its natural close and the inevitable new years resolutions start to creep into our thoughts, for 2018 I want to maintain and develop the connections I have made over 2017. Connectivity has been such a huge part of 2017, that has brought me opportunities (and on reflecting during writing this blog) a lot of joy. So I am looking forward to where this could take me in 2018. What about you?