Legal restraints

We also recognise that there are considerable differences in the legalities and regulation relating to physiotherapy education and practice around the world. These include the possibility that physiotherapy education institutions in different countries might be more or less able to integrate environmental physiotherapy into their curricula, depending on the extent to which this is possible without initially being enabled by respective rules and regulations.

As with the challenge of crowded curricula, an exciting way to integrate environmental physiotherapy into curricula presents itself here just as much. It could begin via the participatory discussion of the challenges that legal, governmental and related restraints pose on doing so. At this level, some of the interesting questions might be to explore how and why environmental and sustainability concerns are hindered or even prohibited from entering physiotherapy education curricula, what the social, cultural, and political reasons for this are, and what might be done to amend this if so desired. We could ask, for example, if ideas of health and safety of the public, which so often prominently feature in health regulations, to some extent foreclose and implicitly label ‘the environment’ as something dangerous from which the public is to be protected.

Combining such discussions with evidence of the rapid rise of national and international sustainable development and ‘green agendas’ like the UN SDGs, the EU Green Deal, etc. might then help direct efforts toward changing legal restraints to relevant curriculum innovation. Based on the understanding that e.g. exposure and connection to the environment are conducive to health under certain conditions, driving respective regulations change would, in turn, constitute a new health intervention in itself and pave the way for the development of further novel interventions. It could also be the case that our efforts should be directed towards ensuring that everyone has access to safe, natural environments, and this would represent another important new pathway for engagement.