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Training physiotherapists to support natural disasters overseas

Training physiotherapists to support natural disasters overseas The Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education has been working closely with Handicap International UK to help support the victims of major international catastrophes.

Recent disasters have highlighted the increased need for rehabilitation professionals to be integrated into emergency medical response teams.

Handicap International UK (HI), a charity working in situations of conflict and disaster, was granted funding by The Department for International Development (DFID) to deliver a two year project. This would aim to train and place a minimum of 30 rehabilitation professionals (physiotherapists and occupational therapists) on the UK International Emergency Trauma Register (UKIETR), which deploys health professionals to large scale emergencies overseas.

Pete Skelton, Rehabilitation Project Manager at HI, developed a training programme consisting of three days of core rehabilitation training, a series of one-day practical sessions and accompanying e-resources.

He worked in collaboration with professional networks, including the British Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Amputee Rehabilitation (BACPAR), for which Senior Lecturer, physiotherapist and amputee expert Mary Jane Cole, is Honorary Education Officer.

Mary Jane developed and delivered the practical workshops on behalf of BACPAR. She was supported by Anne-Marie Hassenkamp, Continuous Personal and Professional (CPPD) lead in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences, and a small working group of therapists who are expert in the field of amputee rehabilitation. The sessions were run at St George's spacious and well equipped physiotherapy laboratories in Tooting, London.

The workshops allowed participants to practise and update their rehabilitation skills on amputee models. Physiotherapy students at Kingston and St George's were also given the valuable opportunity to attend, network and learn new skills.

"We have been using St Georges University as the main site for our training. The facilities are ideal for running the theoretical and practical components of our training. The support from St Georges staff has also been fantastic, and they have really gone out of their way to make the training a success".

Workshops on the management and rehabilitation of spinal cord injury and also peripheral nerve injuries were also held at St George's.

116 rehabilitation professionals have now been officially trained on the UKIETR. The initial two year project is now completed and HI is developing an ongoing plan.

As a member of the register, Mary Jane has supported injured people and provided training to local rehabilitation staff after the conflict in Gaza in 2014 and following the major earthquake in Nepal in 2015. Together with a clinical colleague, she is currently conducting research into the experiences of rehabilitation professionals and is aiming to highlight the benefits that therapists can bring back to their practice back in the UK following short term emergency deployments overseas.

Kingston University and St George's, University of London can provide bespoke training and research services in a variety of disciplines across health, social care and education. We can also offer facilities and equipment hire for training, research or business purposes.

For further information, please contact us.

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