Understanding Pain through the Lens of Merleau-Pontian Phenomenology: How it Applies to Prehabilitation and Rehabilitation
Dr. Chad Carlson
Pain plays an enlightening role in the process of rehabilitation. Phenomenological views of pain strive to contextualize the effect and experience of pain on the individual. Pain is a fundamental part of an individual's experience that represents limitations of oneself. A 20th-century continental philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty provides a framework of phenomenology that current physical therapists, nurses, and even neuroscientists utilize to comprehend pain. Previous articles and studies have demonstrated the importance of understanding pain as a phenomenon that affects one's perception of reality rather than a glitch or breakdown of the body. In this project, I will apply Merleau-Pontian phenomenology to our understanding of pain. In doing so, I will show that characteristics of pain in prehabilitation movement settings can enhance physical therapy and rehabilitation practices. CrossFit presents a unique training model that embodies pain with variance and togetherness from which the field of physical therapy can learn and adopt. The element of variance—being exposed to non-repetitive set of exercises—and togetherness—exercising with others—equips patients and therapists with the ability to address pain.
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