PROFILING NZ REHABILITATION RESEARCH

We are keen to regularly profile rehabilitation-related research conducted within NZ.  Please contact us if you would like us to profile a published paper, poster or conference presentation blogs@rehabilitation.org.nz


  • 17 Dec 2020 10:05 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Rehabilitation Innovation Award 

    Share your mahi with the rehabilitation community! 

    The New Zealand Rehabilitation Association (NZRA) invites applications for the 2021 Rehabilitation Innovation Award. This Award is being offered on a biennial basis and seeks to recognise innovation and excellence in rehabilitation in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The award will be presented at our “Me Mahi Tahi Tātou—Achieving Equity in Rehabilitation” conference to be held in Rotorua, 17-19 September 2021. 

    Applications will be accepted by individuals or teams (if the lead applicant is a member of the NZRA).  A panel will shortlist the applicants, and the three finalists will be supported to attend the NZRA conference to present their innovation, where the audience will determine the winner.  

    We are particularly keen to see applications relating to innovations which work toward achieving equity in health and enhancing experiences and outcomes for those who commonly receive inequitable services and outcomes. The application must relate to an initiative implemented within the previous three years. We particularly welcome applications which have sought to address unmet needs and reduce inequity for Māori. 

    Please check the conference website for further details about this exciting opportunity to profile your mahi, and that of your team and the application form. 

    If you have any question about this award, please email admin@rehabilitation.org.nz 


  • 07 Dec 2020 10:42 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Author: Shar Davis

    Commencing her Inaugural Professorial Lecture with a quote from Katherine Mansfield, Jean Hay-Smith set the tone for not only her lecture but her academic career— “I want to be all that I am capable of becoming”.


    Speaking to the gathered audience and those streaming the lecture online, Jean began by tracing the educational legacy of the previous four generations of women on her maternal side. From her great-great-grandmother who was illiterate through to her mother, a teacher, who had a huge influence on her education and “perhaps unwittingly she was the influence on my clinical career in women’s health”, said Jean.

    Jean’s foray into women’s health began when she was 15 years old, after her mother got her a job as a nurse aid at the Helensville Obstetrics Hospital, where she continued to work part-time for six years until she completed her physiotherapy studies.

    “The health and wellbeing of women was as much in my blood as education,” Jean reflected. Her career took her to London for 10 years where she met Professor Wendy Savage, who began referring patients experiencing painful sex after childbirth to her. “I didn’t have a clue what to do, and I suspect she didn’t either,” said Jean.

    She also met Jill Mantle who Jean credits as the person who encouraged her to consider doing a higher degree and set her on the academic path. Perhaps Jill saw all that Jean was capable of becoming.

    As she commenced her master’s looking at the issue of painful sex post-childbirth, Jean began to realise that lots of treatments were being used in women’s health, without much evidence to support them.

    “Randomised control trials were considered the gold standard way of testing the effectiveness of healthcare interventions—finding randomised trials, critiquing randomised trials and synthesising the data—this is the methodology that became the foundation of my research career,” said Jean.

    A large portion of Jean’s research and work that followed focused on pelvic floor muscle exercises as a treatment to assist in the issue of continence for women, particularly after childbirth. As part of her PhD, she undertook a randomised trial with more than 300 women screened and more than 120 taking part.

    “By the end of the trial I’d heard so many stories of [women] living with a bladder problem and trying to do these exercises called pelvic floor muscle exercises that I felt compelled to put a qualitative study in my PhD”.

    “What I learned from the 20 women I interviewed was how long and how hard they had worked to keep their incontinence private, how silenced they were by a whole set of circumstances.”


    No one will forget the picture Jean painted when she shared one woman’s experience after her doctor suggested she could try ‘those exercises’ to help with her incontinence. “This woman had done toe raises while washing the dishes for more than 20 years,” Jean explained.

    Jean is not afraid to call out the weaknesses in research or in the health care system, suggesting New Zealand’s current maternity health care is substandard, causing women to miss out on effective interventions. Midwives are being overloaded with so many different aspects of a woman’s health journey as their workload has increased but the system hasn’t adapted with those changes.

    Perhaps the most powerful moment of the lecture came as Jean described how an alternative reading of women’s responses regarding seeking medical assistance, showed women as “resourceful and resilient, rather than recalcitrant—because a lot of these research paper introductions are saying ‘You naughty people, you should be seeking help for this problem and you’re not.’,” Jean explained.

    “So, I want to think more broadly about the wellbeing of women, taking an anthropological, more sociological view, the misogyny of science and medicine—it’s pretty clear to see,” said Jean.

    “Women have been excluded from research. Women’s anatomy, physiology and behaviour has been considered deviant and, at other times. women have been experimented on.

    “What must stop is the widespread adoption of new treatments in practice which outrun the evidence of their effects for women, and for safety for women.”


    Jean has moved away from middle-aged women, pelvic floor muscle exercises, systematic reviews and randomised trials and moved towards research for people with bladder and bowel problems after stroke. Working alongside Dr Rachelle Martin, Jean has completed a small study investigating “what might support stroke survivors with bladder and bowel problems to take part in their social roles inside and outside their home.”

    Jean finished her lecture with a series of thanks, firstly to those who she collaborated on research projects with, “it’s their work as much as mine that has created the portfolio that means I stand here today.” She thanked her colleagues at the Rehabilitation Teaching and Research unit past and present, and her family who have supported her throughout her career.

    During his introduction, Professor William Levack said, “If I had to pick one word to describe Jean’s work over the years, it would be collegial. She is the embodiment of the whakataukī, ‘me mahi tahi tatau mo te oranga o te katoa—we must all work together for the wellbeing of us all.’.”

    There is more than enough evidence to confirm that Jean has embodied Katherine Mansfield’s quote. Congratulations Professor Jean Hay-Smith and may you continue to be all you are capable of becoming as you champion women’s health in New Zealand and around the world.

    You can watch Jean's full lecture here.

  • 23 Nov 2020 7:47 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    COVID-19 has impacted our lives for much of this year and will continue to be present heading into 2021. It has no doubt impacted both your personal and professional spaces. We are fortunate in New Zealand to have had low infection numbers.


    As a result we are seeing few instance of people needing rehabilitation after Covid. However, if you are faced with a client who is experience secondary impairments after Covid, what should you do?

    Cochrane Rehabilitation have been working hard to identify all the evidence produced about COVID-19 and rehabilitation. This action is highly essential for clinicians located all over the world. This collection of evidence is reliable and updated each month, so clinicians can access the latest evidence being produced.

    The Rehabilitation COVID-19 Evidence-based Response (REH_COVER) action plan includes:

    1.  an evidence-based living mapping of all the current evidence
    2.  a living rapid systematic review of all the current evidence updated every month
    3. a list of research priorities produced in collaboration with the WHO rehabilitation programme
    4. a Special Collection of Cochrane Systematic Reviews in the Cochrane Library
    5. a series of rapid reviews on evidence about expected rehabilitation needs due to COVID-19 (in production). The REH-COVER action is led by an international multi-professional Steering Committee (13 members, seven professions, four continents, including LMIC).

    Should Covid become more of a problem in New Zealand, it is reassuring that we will have access to the REH-COVER action plan, and if needed we can use this resource to keep up-to-date with the latest additions to the collection.

    Authored: Shar Davis


  • 18 Nov 2020 9:19 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Author: Shar Davis

    NZRA President William Levack gave an insight into the depth and breadth of his academic career when he presented his Inaugural Professorial Lecture in Wellington recently.


    Speaking on the topic of “Meaningful Research—Meaningful Lives” William took the audience on a journey though touchpoints in his career that helped to shape the lens through which he now operates.

    William’s research focusses on patient experiences of rehabilitation, goal setting processes, and interventions to increase patient engagement in rehabilitation activities.

    Using four stories as anchor points for his presentation, William highlighted distinct areas of his career that, while separate, were connected through the importance of research being meaningful (not just for the sake of it) and how it could positively impact lives. The key areas were rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury, goal setting in rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation for chronic lung disease and Cochrane rehabilitation—development of methods for knowledge translation and evidence production.

    One thing that stood out during the presentation was how he has consistently asked questions throughout his life, and that leads him to find answers to these questions (and any subsequent questions that arise in the process).

    Professor Paul Brunton Pro-vice Chancellor of Health Sciences said, “To become a professor at the Uni of Otago is incredibly difficult. We have very high academic standards.”

    A promotion to Professor is “an endorsement of people’s academic activity, both in teaching research but also in academic service, both to the university and the wider community,” said Brunton.

    These words, a testament to the high degree of respect that William has within the Academic community.

    William began the night with a humorous account of his early interest in research though his study of earthworms and slaters, he credits his mother as the one who introduced him to experimental design, statistical test and the importance of a good control group.

    According to his research findings, “slaters like cuddling rather than being by themselves,” shared William. While perhaps an unexpected topic for an Inaugural Professorial Lecture, it highlighted his extended and extensive love of research and his ability to connect with his audience in a personable, down-to-earth, and grounded-in-research fashion.

    Congratulations Professor William Levack!

    You can check out his full presentation here


  • 06 Nov 2020 1:51 PM | Anonymous
    • NURS433/PSME439 Intellectual Disability: Theory into Practice

      The aim of this Interprofessional paper is to develop your knowledge base, practical and clinical skills as a practitioner working in this specialist field, and in working alongside people with intellectual (learning) disability. The content is underpinned by evidenced-based practice and current philosophy grounded on changing models of disability. Links are made between physical and mental well-being, sociological, pharmacological, behavioural, interprofessional and ethical approaches across the lifespan. 

      You could be eligible to undertake this Level 8 paper if you hold a professional health/education qualification and/or undergraduate degree and are a professional working in the health and/or disability sector.

      Nurses must hold registration from a three-year programme or course, congruent with the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance (HPCA) Act (2003). The paper is able to be included in the suite of papers for a number of PGDiplomas and it can also be taken as a standalone paper – COP, Certificate of Proficiency and brought into a PG qualification at a later date.


    • For enquiries about this paper contact: Henrietta Trip henrietta.trip@otago.ac.nz, (03) 364 3857


  • 25 Sep 2020 4:25 PM | Anonymous

    Would you like to share your thoughts on interprofessional team communication in inpatient rehabilitation?

    Julia Paxino is PhD student in Melbourne. She is keen to talk to clinicians in NZ and Australia from a whole range of professions and clinical contexts (i.e. not linked to specific patient/diagnostic groups) about this topic. If you’re interested in taking part, please feel free to contact Julia directly. Her details are on the attached invitation...

    Interprofessional communication study recruitment information.pdf

  • 21 Jul 2020 3:27 PM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    NZRA is looking for a financially minded person with good communication and interpersonal skills to join our national executive as treasurer.

    The NZRA executive is a dynamic group of rehabilitation enthusiasts working together to provide leadership and to advocate for excellence in rehabilitation in NZ.  The executive meets on a monthly basis and the treasurer’s role would be to provide financial oversight and report to the committee at meetings, taking the lead in financial matters.

    The role is voluntary and the usual term is two years up to a maximum of four years.  If you are interested get in touch with Debbie Snell deborah.snell@cdhb.health.nz.

  • 15 Jul 2020 11:10 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Developed by Martin Chadwick – MoH Chief Allied Health Professions Officer - with input from Allied Health Aotearoa


  • 30 Jun 2020 10:44 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    The NZRA is currently seeking keen beans to join us as we work to ....

    ...raise the awareness and voice of rehabilitation in New Zealand, creating opportunities that connect organisations and advocating for excellence in rehabilitation to achieve best outcomes.

    We are looking for people to contribute in a number of ways.

    We are seeking greater diversity in both the NZRA Executive and the NZRA Conference Planning Committee. We particularly welcome people who are Māori, who have the lived experience of disability, clinicians, organisational and/or provider representatives. That said, we would love to hear from anyone who is interested in joining us as we would value the time, skills and enthusiasm of all.

    1. Join the NZRA Executive team.

    Keen to help us explore ways to promote rehabilitation in NZ? We need a few more people to help out. It's a great way to network and keep up with what's happening. 

    We are also particularly interested in hearing from people who could help us in a treasurer role. Do you know someone who would be willing to do this work pro bono - e.g. an accountant looking for some NGO organisational experience?

    Get in touch with William Levack (NZRA President) via william.levack@otago.ac.nz for more information or to indicate your interest. 

    2. Join the 2021 Conference Organising Committee

    Would you like to assist dream, scheme and pull-together an innovative NZ Rehabilitation Conference? The plans are underway and we exploring options for September 2021. We are keen to make this a really interactive, practice-based event with a particular focus on improving equity of access and outcomes in the NZ context. Do you think you would like to join the team and contribute? Get in touch with Rachelle Martin (Conference Convener) via rachelle.martin@otago.ac.nz for more information or to indicate your interest.

  • 23 Jun 2020 2:09 PM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Contributed by Agnetha Korevaar, Callaghan Innovation.

    I was one of those kids who was always playing with Lego, adventuring on the farm or helping Dad fix broken equipment; curious to know how things work, eager to explore, and keen to make new and improved inventions. So when I heard about mechatronics engineering (mechanical engineering + electronics + software smarts = robots), I thought it seemed like the perfect way to use science to create things which are helpful in day to day life.

    It was in the final year of university that I got my first taste of rehab tech. Alongside standard engineering courses, I had the opportunity to learn about human physiology and how diseases such as stroke can affect it. For the final year project, our student team came up with a device to help people who have had a stroke with arm rehabilitation exercises. Guided by an expert mentor, we developed the idea for an affordable device for in-home use, so that people would have more opportunities to do their rehabilitation exercises and (hopefully!) be able to regain more of the function they’d lost.

    Fast-forward a few years and I was working to develop new technologies at a Christchurch company who design the electronics on powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (Dynamic Controls). While there I gained valuable technical skills from fellow engineers, user experience designers, and product managers. I was also encouraged to think outside the box and develop new technology that could improve the quality of life for people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters. We had the opportunity to spend time using these mobility aids, and feel firsthand some of the frustrations. Another key way we got user insights was interviewing people who are dependent on these devices every day and hearing of their joys and difficulties. Putting these experiences together, we could figure out where crazy ideas and new technology could help the most.

    Now I’m a research engineer at Callaghan Innovation, helping innovative businesses across New Zealand to turn their ideas into real-life prototypes. I’ve joined the MedTech CoRE - a network of researchers from both clinical and engineering backgrounds, who are developing new medical technologies. The theme of stroke rehab has continued, and I’ve been helping to develop a new version of the arm rehabilitation device. Over the past year, I’ve been working together with speech and language therapists and people who use speech generating devices (SGDs), to figure out how we can give Māori SGD users a te reo voice and the ability to express themselves using their first language. These are the kinds of projects that excite me - opportunities where tech could make a very real difference for those living with disability.

    So what’s next? I’d love more opportunities to chat with clinicians and people with lived experience of injury or disability, to hear about areas where technology could make a huge difference, and then, to turn those ideas into reality.

    Agnetha can be contacted via: Agnetha.Korevaar@callaghaninnovation.govt.nz

© 2015 New Zealand Rehabilitation Association, Inc. 

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software