Community ambulation: Perceptions of rehabilitation physiotherapists in rural and regional communities Academic Article uri icon


  • Research has highlighted the impact of the external environment on the ability to walk in the community but little research exists about the abilities, skills, or contextual factors that physiotherapists identify as important to enable a client to return to walking in their rural or regional community. This article investigates the abilities, skills, and contextual factors that rehabilitation physiotherapists practicing in rural and regional communities in Australia perceive significant in enabling clients post stroke to return to walking in their rural or regional community. Physiotherapists involved in treating clients with stroke were interviewed about their perceptions of the skills and abilities required by clients post stroke with a mobility problem that are significant in enabling a return to walking in the community. Data were interpreted by using a grounded theory methodology that involved coding and analysing observational notes and interview transcripts to develop an understanding of the emergent themes. Six key themes were identified: 1) ability to walk at speed and physical fitness, 2) the ability to negotiate different terrains, 3) ambient conditions, 4) the ability to reason and monitor the environment, 5) to have support of a person or aid, and 6) to have the drive (internal and external) to walk in the community. Some of these abilities are described in the current literature, but others are not. The findings of this research will add to the existing body of knowledge on physiotherapist's decision making around the emerging topic of community ambulation.

publication date

  • 2012

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