Cross-Cultural Rehabilitation: An International Perspective

Cross-Cultural Rehabilitation: An International Perspective

Cross-Cultural Rehabilitation: An International Perspective

Cross-Cultural Rehabilitation: An International Perspective


This book helps build an awareness of cultural and racial issues that are increasingly vital for today's rehabilitation professionals. This new resource explores this subject in depth, providing valuable insights from an interdisciplinary team of authors.


As we anticipate a new millennium, the world is in a state of transformation. Many countries are experiencing considerable demographic shifts along with an increasingly wide range of ethnic identification, religion, material reality, beliefs and behaviors - all leading to rich diversity and cultural complexity. At the same time, health professionals are becoming much more aware of the need to become culturally competent in order to be most effective in their interaction with patients. Rehabilitation professionals have yet to address the issue of cultural competence adequately. The time is ripe for an emerging subspecialty within the fields of rehabilitation medicine and medical anthropology; that is, the field of cross-cultural and international rehabilitation.

As my professional career has expanded to include physical therapy, public health and medical anthropology, I have been frustrated by the way medical and rehabilitation professionals generally focus solely on their area of clinical expertise and rarely pay adequate attention to the socio-cultural context in which our clients live. This frustration has been exacerbated by the dearth of accessible literature and resources in the newly emerging specialty of cross‐ cultural rehabilitation. For those of us wanting to develop our clinical or academic expertise in this arena, there have been few people or places to turn to for tangible learning tools. To begin to fill the gap, I had thought about editing a book such as this for many years. However, it wasn't until the 1995 meeting of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) in Washington DC that I committed myself to such a project. The cross-cultural and international atmosphere was exhilarating. Many people from around the world gave presentations about disability and rehabilitation in their community or country. They gathered for informal conversations about the need for innovative models of rehabilitation specific to a particular environment. The 'buzz words' of the 90s were everywhere - diversity, multi-culturalism, cultural sensitivity, and more. In essence, it was, and remains, apparent that rehabilitation professionals have a moral and pragmatic imperative to become culturally competent.

Because there is so little published material on cross-cultural and international rehabilitation, I faced the challenge of how to be broad minded and expansive, yet focused and specific. I found this to be no easy task. This book is not meant to be merely an academic exercise; my intent is for the reader to gain practical information. I hope the information herein will help to bring together the art and science of rehabilitation with applied medical anthropology. I look forward to the time when a new generation of professionals will offer contributions to expand this field of study by publishing other related, yet more specialized materials.

As we enter the next century, we must genuinely collaborate with our clients and colleagues, including those trained in other disciplines and community level workers, in order to obtain the best possible functional outcome for . . .

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