Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


A Post-critical Approach, 1st Edition

By Barbara Gibson

CRC Press

162 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Rehabilitation is dedicated to helping people not only survive, but also thrive. Despite this complex goal, the organizing principles of rehabilitation still rely on biomedicine to construct disability as a problem of impaired bodies. Rehabilitation professionals are committed to helping to enhance people’s lives, but many struggle with how to do so in light of the bigger questions regarding their roles in, for example, working to maintain hope for recovery and/or promoting greater acceptance of diverse abilities. A key problem is the lack of theoretical tools for working through the function of rehabilitation in the lives of disabled people.

Rehabilitation, for the most part, reflects a narrow mechanistic conception of movement. It considers movements of body structures such as joints, functional movements such as walking, or more recently, how movement and mobility facilitate participation in social roles. Despite a nascent concern with the environmental factors contributing to disablement, movement is still focused primarily on mobilizing people’s bodies.

Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach reexamines the philosophical foundations of rehabilitation, expanding the concept of movement beyond the physical body.

Drawing from disability studies, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, and bioethics, this theoretically rigorous yet accessibly styled text:

  • Explores the limitations of biomedicine as the organizing framework of rehabilitation
  • Evaluates new directions to diversify contemporary rehabilitation practice
  • Establishes the parameters for a reconfigured ethics of rehabilitation

By embracing multiple ideas of movement—not only physical, but also social, emotional, and political—alternative approaches to rehabilitation are revealed.


"The book before you is more than simply a case for reflexivity in, and theoretical reflections on, rehabilitation: it is an important contribution to a burgeoning space of inquiry, to disability studies of rehabilitation. … Gibson does a great service."

—From the Foreword by Thomas Abrams, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

Table of Contents

Moving Rehabilitation

A Post-critical Approach

Critical Disability Studies

An Ethic of Openness

Moving Bodies

Use of Terms

Mobilizing Post-Critical Methodologies: Book Outline

Outline of Chapters



What Is Disability?

Theorizing Disability

The Social Model of Disability

International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health

What Is Normal(ity)?

Post-Critical Movements: Perturbing the Normal/Disabled Divide

Rehabilitating Normal/Disabled


Quality of Life

Origins and Confusions

QOL, Function, and Normalization

A Case Example

Challenges from within the Health Sciences

The Subjective/Objective Divide

Quality of Life Judgments in Clinical Practices

The Object of Intervention

Reforming Quality of Life



Barbara E. Gibson, Gail Teachman, and Yani Hamdani


Rethinking Children’s Rehabilitation

Implications for Rehabilitation Practice

Unhinging Normal and Development



Discourses of In/dependence

Dependence, Independence, and Interdependence in Disability Studies and Rehabilitation


Moving Assemblages

Reconstructing Dependencies



Mobilizing Desire

Amputee Mobilities

Crawling Mobilities

Wheelchair Mobilities

Mobility Movements


Re-Forming Rehabilitation

Continuities of Theory with Practice

Revisiting the Ethics of Openness

Implications: Mobilizing and Re-Forming

Rhizomatic Reforms

Choices and Directions

Movement without Conclusion


About the Author

Barbara E. Gibson is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, and a senior scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She holds the Bloorview Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Childhood Disability Studies. She is a physical therapist and bioethicist, whose research examines the sociopolitical dimensions of childhood disability and rehabilitation. She holds cross appointments at the Centre for Person Centred Research, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand, and the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She is an academic fellow at the Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research and a member of the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto.

About the Series

Rehabilitation Science in Practice Series

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Allied Health Services / General
MEDICAL / Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety