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Spreading Awareness Through Social Media: Darren Brown, P.T.

Feeling like it's hard to stay on top of new information in our practice? Feeling like you're the only one working in your area? Want to be more involved, but don't know where to start? Social media can help. 

In the January/February issue of your magazine Physiotherapy Practice, we profiled five social media leaders from around the world. We are pleased to bring you the extended interviews that helped develop the article for the magazine. You can access the magazine online at:

https://physiotherapy.ca/publications/vol-7-no-1

Meet Darren Brown, a physiotherapist in London, England with a clinical specialty in HIV, disability, and rehabilitation. You can find him on Twitter @darrenabrown or learn more about global physiotherapy for HIV/AIDS through http://www.wcpt.org/ipt-hope

Tell us about how you became active in social media?

My area of clinical specialism is within HIV, disability and rehabilitation. This is an emerging area of physiotherapy practise internationally; however, I am fortunate to be the vice-chair of @RehabHIV and the HIV/AIDS coordinator of @IPTHOPE. These roles include advocacy of physiotherapy for people living with HIV, therefore there is a need to engage physiotherapists, other health professionals, people living with HIV and the charitable sector, to share the knowledge that physiotherapy works for people living with HIV. I am passionate about ensuring that this message is disseminated as far as possible, and I believe the most effective method of doing this is a multi-channel approach including social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Tell us about the moment when you realised social media was a useful knowledge translation tool.

It took me three attempts to truly “get” twitter, but once I attempted to use Twitter from a professional perspective it made so much sense. Right in front of me was a huge opportunity to connect with professionals from all over the world, widely disseminate my work, and also share knowledge between like-minded peers. It was this light bulb moment that made me realise that I could also change the way I had been using other social media platforms such as Facebook, to better engage people from within and outside the physiotherapy profession and better understand the role of physiotherapy for people living with HIV.  The role that social media plays in connectivity, advocacy and knowledge translation are the three key reasons I continue to gain huge benefits from actively participating in social media. 

 

What do you consider before you decide to share, repost, post, say, etc.?

I am always careful to ensure that anything I post, share or like is relevant, respectful, and professional. There are times that this area can be grey, which is challenging, however common sense needs to take the lead. You might ask yourself “How will I be perceived?” “Will somebody take offense?” or “What does this say about my profession?”.  My public social media presence is solely professional; therefore I am conscious not to step outside appropriate boundaries, which can restrict some engagement in political discussions of healthcare and activism. Within HIV there is a strong community of activism, which historically has shaped where HIV care is today. I am keen to engage with the HIV activist community, however remain mindful of appropriate professional boundaries and the scope on which my engagement is meaningful, supportive and of benefit. 

 

What advice would you give health professionals who are interested in using social media for knowledge translation? 

Social media is what you make of it, and its flexibility is it’s greatest strength. So I would say get involved in a way that enables you to get out of social media what you want to achieve. Give yourself the opportunity to share what you are passionate about, connect with like-minded peers, learn about things you might want or need to learn, and grow in your own way to enjoy the benefits of social media and knowledge translation. You will not look back, but just be sensible and don’t get too carried away.  Twitter and Facebook are my preferred social media platforms, as they provide instant opportunities to share, connect and learn. I believe the sense of community that comes from shared knowledge among interested peers is a reason that social media has become so popular within physiotherapy internationally. 

There are times that the level of connectivity on social media platforms can be over-whelming, for example during tweet chats. It is during these moments that I will sometimes step back, reflect on the situation and realise that I don’t need to read everything, I don’t need to respond to everything, I don’t need to understand everything. Giving yourself the freedom to engage, observe and learn from others is liberating via social media, and a novel way of being part of a wider community of knowledge translation. 

 

Where can people follow you on Social Media and/or what are the top 5 “social media accounts” to follow? 

You can follow me on Twitter @darrenabrown

My top 5 twitter accounts to follow;

 

So if you want to give social media a try for gathering and sharing information for your practice, you can start with following the CPA Division that you are a  member of (e.g. Pain Science @painphysioscan). Once you figure out who the leaders in your area of practice are, check out who they follow. You will slowly build up your network and start being exposed to many learning opportunities.

If you haven’t dabbled in social media yet, have we convinced you to give it a try? Check out how Chantal Lauzon got started on Twitter Opens in a new window.

If you love this, check out the Physiotherapy Practice social media issue here Opens in a new window.