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Physiotherapists are not corn
  1. Laura Ritchie
  1. Correspondence to Laura Ritchie, Orthopaedic Division, Canadian Physiotherapy Association, London, Ontario N6L 0C2, Canada; orthodiv{at}

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It turns out I am a terrible physiotherapist. If you practise in a ‘Hands On’ manner and believe everything you read online, then you might come to the conclusion that you are too. Such is the vehemence of opinion in the ‘Hands On-Hands Off’ debate on platforms such as Twitter, it seems to echo the polarising political discourse that is now so common.

Now, we know we are not terrible therapists. We know that as physiotherapists who include manual therapy in our treatment approach, we are part of a network with a long, proud history of excellence in clinical knowledge, techniques and reasoning. But lately it seems that special interest groups such as the Orthopaedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) are facing some serious challenges. There has long been a perception that we are all about mobilisations (‘mobes’) and manipulations (‘manips’) but this has been amplified recently through social media. The potential impact of this negative rhetoric is worth considering, even if you are not active on social media yourself. Will recent graduates continue to study manual therapy-based curricula when faced with the plethora of alternative educational opportunities in conjunction with obdurate voices on social media? Similarly, in the face of the naysaying, will some therapists lose faith in their training and think twice about instructing in orthopaedic or manual therapy courses? The net result could be that therapists of all levels of training develop an ortho identity crisis.

A clear professional identity is important. It guides our path and it gives us strength when facing challenges. The identity of our profession has been and continues to be evaluated in different ways. Pat Miller, Vanina Dal Bello-Haas and Chantal Lauzon are finalising the core professional values of the CPA through a Delphi process.1 Dave Walton and the Physio Moves Canada team connected …

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  • Contributors With gratitude to Jasdeep Dhir, Angela Growse, Jennifer MacMillan and Bev Padfield for providing background information on the Orthopaedic Division and its curriculum for this article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note A slightly different version of this article originally appeared in a blog hosted by the Orthopaedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association in June 2018. Representatives of the Orthopaedic Division gave permission for reproduction of the article here and it was modified to its current format at the request of BJSM editors.