The process of creating this issue of rehabINK, titled, “Social Issues in Rehabilitation: Diversity, Care & Engagement” was paradoxical. Paradoxes are thought to be provoking, which may be why we hear them all the time. Save money by spending it. This is the beginning of the end. For us, the great paradox was: reflecting on social issues in a not-so social world. As authors and editors, we have spent the past 5 months reflecting on social issues in rehabilitation to create this issue of rehabINK. We did so during a time when socialization with each other and our institutions seemed like something from the distant past. Our collective tendency to be concerned with our social bubbles was illustrated by some trends that arose during the past year. Understandably so, we became preoccupied with whether we had enough hand sanitizer or masks to sustain the health of those in our immediate families.
Within rehabINK, however, we selected the theme of “Social Issues in Rehabilitation” to actively challenge ourselves to think beyond of the immediacy of the issues affecting our social bubbles. As you will read, many of these articles confront difficult social issues that have permeated into the larger realm of rehabilitation research, care and institutions. Together, the articles in this issue have allowed us to contemplate the needs, quality of care, and inequities faced by individuals with diverse social identities. We also became increasingly cognisant of the pressing need to propagate anti-racism. It is with regret that this issue did not receive submissions that explicitly addressed the social issues experienced by BIPOC populations in rehabilitation. As individuals engaging in knowledge-translation, we have taken this as a call to better endorse a consciousness that acknowledges and criticizes the inequities faced by the BIPOC community. In an attempt to fill this glaring gap in our issue, the editors of rehabINK have compiled a few resources that outline the social issues experienced by the BIPOC community in the different areas of rehabilitation science, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech-language pathology. We hope that this issue of rehabINK will allow you to critically contemplate and self-reflect upon the inequities, and barriers faced by the diverse social groups in the rehabilitation sciences. May we embrace these insights to inspire us towards creating a better future together. Please stay tuned for our new submission category, Letter to the Editor, which welcomes opinion and commentary pieces from our readership. We are open and excited to continue this very important dialogue with you.
1.Hamilton M. An Informed Lens on African American English. ASHA Publications. 2020 [cited 23 January 2021]. Available from https://leader.pubs.asha.org/doi/full/10.1044/leader.FTR1.25012020.46
“The article emphasizes the importance of considering cultural-linguistic and dialectal differences when assessing children from diverse cultural backgrounds. By recognizing the difference between communication differences, as compared to communication disorders, speech-language pathologists and educators will be able to accurately assess and provide early oral language intervention, and promote culturally- and linguistically- responsive assessment and therapeutic practices.” – Insiya Bhalloo and Bismah Khalid
2. Lavalley R & Johnson KR.Occupation, injustice, and anti-Black racism in the United States of America, Journal of Occupational Science. 2020; S1:1-13.
A critical article that uses a variety of examples throughout history to re-frame how we conceive of occupational activities. Typically, in the rehabilitation science community we regard occupations as beneficial, and a means to promote equality and justice to various populations. However, this insightful read outlines how certain occupations throughout history have served to racialize and oppress members of the BIPOC community. Overall, this is a great read that encourages occupational therapists and occupational scientists to critically reflect upon the occupations that their practice may promote.
3.Canadian Physiotherapy Association & Blake T. IDEA Resources – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action in Physiotherapy. n.d. [cited January 23 2021) from https://www.orthodiv.org/resources/idea-resources/
This website, created by the Canadiaan Physiotherapy Association, features a list of webinars, courses, blogs and academic articles that promote a consciousness of “inclusion, diversity, anti-racism and equity” within the clinical practice of physiotherapy.
4. Myers V. How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them. 2014 [cited January 23, 2021] from https://www.ted.com/talks/verna_myers_how_to_overcome_our_biases_walk_boldly_toward_them
Not entirely specific to the realm of rehabilitation science, this TED talk offers a starting point for those that want to reflect upon their implicit biases and to learn about the importance of not being colour blind. -Resource provided by Stephanie Cimino, Stephanie Saunders and Abby Vijayakumar
Stephanie Posa, Editor-in-Chief
We are pleased to share with you Issue 10 of rehabINK!
Our previous issue was published during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not much has changed since then in terms of restrictions and lock-downs, yet the context feels considerably different. Since the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, there has been an increased acknowledgement within North America and beyond around the persistence of racism. As was pointed out by rehabINK authors LLana James, Sally Abudiab, and Samira Said Omar in 2019, critical discussions around the intersections between racism, health, and well-being are desperately needed in the field of rehabilitation sciences. With the hope of facilitating critical conversations around racism and other social issues in rehabilitation, for this issue, our team invited submissions under the theme “Social Issues in Rehabilitation: Diversity, Care, and Engagement”.
In addition to preparing Issue 10 for publication, our team has been busy with a number of other projects, including the rehabINK podcast! Since the release of Issue 9, the podcast team has produced six new podcasts, five of which comprise the COVID-19 Mini-Series. Thanks to the Student Engagement Award provided by the University of Toronto, we were able to create COVID-19: A Mini-Series, which peers into the lives of students, healthcare professionals, researchers and those with specific lived experiences to share their perspectives and stories on how they have adapted their lives to the pandemic. Additionally, the podcast team has recently released Episode 4: Physical and Mental Health in Autism Spectrum Disorder, where Dr. Patrick Jachyra speaks about his work with youth living with neurodevelopmental disorders and promoting physical activity programs in the community. Coming up soon is Episode 5, where we recap a Rehabilitation Sciences Institute (RSI) Speaker Series event on the topic of mental health. We had the opportunity to part-take in a panel discussion with RSI students surrounding the importance of holistic health, as well as the intersection of rehabilitation and mental health. It has truly been great seeing the large growth of the rehabINK podcast, especially during such challenging times. With the continued development of the podcast, as well as the release of Issue 10, we are very excited to extend the reach of rehabilitation sciences research through a variety of platforms.
Below is a quick glance at all the articles published in Issue 10, with topics ranging from sex and gender to socioeconomic disparities, we believe this issue truly showcases the breadth and importance of social issues in rehabilitation:
01 – Bilen Araya dives into the importance of pelvic health and why purely “fixing the problem” is not enough when creating a rehabilitation plan. In “Pregnancy-Induced Pelvic Girdle Pain: The ICF Framework”, Bilen demonstrates how using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health framework can help to inform comprehensive and patient-centered care.
02 – In “Treatment Not as Usual: Caring for Rehabilitation Patients Who Are Homeless”, Kristina Kokorelias sheds light on how clinicians and researchers alike can become more mindful of the issues persons experiencing homelessness face in obtaining rehabilitation services. The issues are discussed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and quotes are shared from an interview with occupational therapist, Adi Rittenberg.
03 – Stephanie Posa draws awareness to the participatory exclusion of youth in rehabilitation research. In her commentary “Paediatric Voice in Rehabilitation Research: Art as a Communicative Tool”, she teaches us the importance of privileging the voices of children and youth alongside adults in rehabilitation research, and how the employment of art-based research can facilitate this.
04 – Ever considered how understanding the gender of clients can impact not only physiotherapy practice, but guide research and academic curriculum building? Don’t miss this commentary written by Rochelle Furtado and Christina Ziebart: “Let’s Talk About Sex and Gender!”, where they discuss the importance and practicality of incorporating a gender-inclusive approach in rehabilitation.
05 – Christina Ziebart and Chelsea MacDonald explore the topic of person-centred research in their commentary titled “Person-Centred Research: Bringing the ‘Bedside’ to the ‘Bench’ in Rehabilitation Science”. They encourage researchers to engage in this sort of research through use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health framework, employment of a participatory action research approach, and a focus on qualitative methods and cognitive interviewing.
06 – In “Overlooked in Healthcare – Supporting Family Caregivers from Diverse Backgrounds”, Abigail Reid brings to light differences between collectivist and individualist cultures, and what that means in the context of family caregivers. We invite you to check out this article for some insights into cultural relevance in healthcare.
07 – In “Over and Under: Overcoming Systemic Barriers to Employment for Underserved Youth with Disabilities in Rural Areas”, DeBrittany Mitchell and Julisa Cully describe the barriers to employment that youth with disabilities (especially those living in rural areas) face. They also discuss how the Institute for Community Inclusion uses vocational rehabilitation and collaborative strategies to overcome these challenges.
08 – Fiona Höbler provides us with perspectives on what it is like to speak with a stutter, in her article “Restructuring the Conversation: Advocating for Change in How We Listen and View Stuttering”. We learn about the role of Speech-Language Pathologists, advocates and individuals with lived experience in their journey towards self-advocacy.
09 – In “Equity in Access and Use of Rehabilitation Services in Canada”, Nivetha Chandran explores what health equity means for Canadians. This commentary provides an overview of the barriers and potential facilitators to equitable access to rehabilitation services.
With these nine articles, we invite you to take a deep dive into the range of social issues facing rehabilitation sciences today. We are so proud of all the authors, illustrators, and editors who made this issue possible, and we truly hope these articles help facilitate critical discussion.
We encourage you to keep the critical conversation going by submitting a Letter to the Editor – a new and exciting initiative at rehabINK which is set to debut soon after Issue 10 goes live – stay tuned! We look forward to hearing from you.
Allee Thompson & Bernice Lau
Winter Issue 10 Co-Managing Editors
To refer to this article, it can be cited as:
Posa S, Lau B, Thompson A. Letter from the editors. rehabINK. 2020;10. Available from: https://rehabinkmag.com