Embodied Adventures in Medicine: Exploring the effects of improvisation for children and young people with acute pain in a clinical setting

Lisa Dowler

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    This presentation provides a descriptive account of the From Where You Are Project by Small Things Dance Collective, with a particular focus on conveying findings to date of a study into the effects of improvised somatic dance with children who have acute pain, at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, UK. Utilising a mixed methodology of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to data collection and a phenomenological approach to movement/dance practice, this research follows six years of foundational inquiries including a successful qualitative pilot study. The study involves intimate duets of breath, touch, movement and play between children and young people on the Neuromedical, Orthopaedic and Cardiac wards and Small Things artists. Through a process of listening, responding and companionship an improvised duet navigates the unknown, offering the participant the possibility of leading and expressing themselves in the present moment within a clinical context where they have little control or choice. This approach has become implicit to the delivery of paediatric healthcare at Alder Hey and is supported by clinical staff. This new study is a collaboration with clinical staff and utilises validated pain assessment tools in an attempt to generate evidence which speaks to clinicians regarding improvisation and its potential to medicine. Furthermore it proposes that experienced improvisers offer an intriguing approach in relating to patients, one which is crucial to patient-centred healthcare, as Carel argues, “a philosophical framework that views cognition as embodied, focuses on subjective experience, and provides a robust existential account of selfhood is well suited to understanding the experience of illness.”(2012:5) Carel, H (2012) Phenomenology as a Resource for Patients, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 0:1-18, 2012.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2013
    EventPolitical Ecologies in Contact: Articulating Improvisation Practices - Falmouth University, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Apr 20137 Apr 2013


    ConferencePolitical Ecologies in Contact: Articulating Improvisation Practices
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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