top of page
  • aaptnetinfo

The Intersection of Social Justice and Physical Therapy Practice

How do we Integrate Social Justice Into Physical Therapy?


Physical therapy, a field primarily associated with rehabilitation and recovery, has increasingly recognized its role in promoting social justice. In this blog, we delve into the complex and evolving relationship between social justice and physical therapy practice. This discussion explores how physical therapists are navigating intricate concepts related to Black identity, colonialism, translation, and power dynamics within the broader context of healthcare.

Historical Context

To comprehend the intersection of social justice and physical therapy, we must first acknowledge the historical context. Historically, healthcare has been shaped by colonial legacies that perpetuated inequalities in access and treatment. These disparities often disproportionately affected Black communities and other marginalized groups.

Reckoning with Power Dynamics

Physical therapists today find themselves at the intersection of power dynamics rooted in historical injustices. The colonial history of healthcare has resulted in structural inequities that persist in modern practice. Recognizing these dynamics is a crucial step towards dismantling barriers to equitable healthcare.

Language and Cultural Translation

The concept of translation in physical therapy extends beyond language to cultural competence. Physical therapists must navigate diverse cultural backgrounds and belief systems. Understanding the nuances of cultural identity, including Black identity, is essential to providing patient-centered care.

Advocating for Change

Physical therapists are increasingly taking on the role of advocates for social justice within their profession. They recognize that addressing health disparities requires a commitment to dismantling systemic barriers. This advocacy may involve pushing for policy changes, advocating for underserved communities, and actively promoting diversity and inclusion.

Incorporating Social Justice in Practice

Integrating social justice into physical therapy practice means acknowledging the broader determinants of health. Physical therapists are recognizing that factors such as access to healthcare, economic stability, and social support profoundly impact a patient's well-being. They strive to address these determinants within their scope of practice.

The Future of Social Justice in Physical Therapy

As the intersection of social justice and physical therapy continues to evolve, it raises thought-provoking questions about the future of healthcare. Can the field truly become a catalyst for change in dismantling oppressive systems? Can physical therapists effectively address the complex needs of diverse populations while advocating for justice and equity?


The intersection of social justice and physical therapy practice represents a critical nexus in the ongoing struggle for equitable healthcare. Physical therapists, by engaging with complex ideas related to identity, history, and power dynamics, are poised to be agents of change within the healthcare system. As we reflect on the significance of this intersection, we must recognize the profound potential for transformation in the pursuit of a more just and inclusive healthcare landscape.

38 views0 comments


bottom of page