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


  • 05 Mar 2020 9:35 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Last month NZRA was delighted to host Professor Jacinta Douglas presenting on:

    "Community reintegration and social connection for people with brain injury”

    Professor Douglas discussed the social isolation and loneliness frequently experienced by people with acquired brain injury. Around 70 people – mainly clinicians working with people following brain within inpatient and community-based rehabilitation settings - attended the two symposia in Christchurch and Auckland 

    Social connection refers to forming and maintaining various interpersonal relationships which are significant and satisfying and that extend beyond the family. People who experience disability frequently report wanting to be actively integrated and connected within their social relationships. Their sense of self is often maintained in terms of their experiences in social and activity contexts – whether they were feeling ‘part of things’ or not. Importantly, people often prioritise being able to contribute to relationships, rather than just being in receipt of care and support.

    It was wonderful to spend the morning thinking about these issues and having time to reflect on the ways that the services support (or don’t do so well at supporting) the development or maintenance of social connections.

  • 28 Feb 2020 1:29 PM | Anonymous

    Submitted by Ally Calder

    The School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago PHTY 535 Neurorehabilitation for Physiotherapists paper is offered by distance or on campus. It aims to provide practising physiotherapists with a more advanced level of knowledge, competence and skill in the neurorehabilitation field through integrating theory, practice, and reflection. The student will develop an ability to critically appraise and evaluate current neurorehabilitation practice trends beyond that of the entry–level practitioner, and apply this information to the evaluation and management of the patient. One of the most valuable aspects of this paper is being able to “put your own spin on it” within the context of the broad topics covered. Topics include exploring physical activity and health, management of secondary conditions, fatigue management, neuropathophysiology, and philosophies of healthcare and service delivery. Within these areas, the student can individualise their learning to their particular interests within a neurorehabilitation context (e.g., TBI, Concussion, Stroke, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, Spinal Cord Injury, Paediatrics). To illustrate such diversity, previous students have explored the effects of cycling on gait parameters in paediatric rehabilitation, the management of central post-stroke pain, passive standing in the long term management of people with spinal cord injury, and strength training in people with chronic stroke. The paper is assessed via three written assignments, one reflective piece, and an oral presentation.

    Leanne Robinson provided feedback about her experiences of this paper. “I would like to express my gratitude for the fantastic friendly and open way that this paper was facilitated. As an older adult learner I valued the way you were able to facilitate so everyone had the ability to share and learn from each other no matter where they were on the spectrum of experience or area of practice. It has provided me with a framework for taking limited research in some areas of my area of work, synthesizing and then being able to articulate what that means to my practice. I have already been able to further support a 4th year student, my new grad physio and my other colleagues to look at research in a slightly different and more robust way. I have renewed my enthusiasm for research and the implementation of physiotherapy in my very slow rehabilitation area is of huge benefit to those families and children I have known for a very long time.

    The PHTY 535 paper is primarily facilitated by Dr Ally Calder along with her colleagues at the School of Physiotherapy whose expertise and interests span a wide range of areas within the field of neurorehabilitation. For further information about this paper, please don’t hesitate to contact Ally at ally.calder@otago.ac.nz or to discuss your postgraduate programme of study at the School of Physiotherapy contact the Associate Dean of Postgraduate studies Dr Meredith Perry (meredith.perry@otago.ac.nz)


  • 18 Feb 2020 3:48 PM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Postgraduate Study – Rehabilitation pathway at AUT

    Many practitioners find the skills and knowledge they develop through their undergraduate qualification are necessary, but not sufficient, to manage the complexities of rehabilitation practice. In the postgraduate rehabilitation pathway in the School of Clinical Sciences at AUT, they help you explore some of these complexities and then apply your new knowledge in your practice. The pathway is intended for rehabilitation practitioners or other professionals working in a range of patient populations, across a range of practice settings.

    • AUT offer the benefits of connecting on campus with lecturers and peers at block courses, alongside the flexibility of online and self-directed learning.
    • Papers are delivered by lecturers from a range of disciplines who are leaders in rehabilitation research.
    • Course content is continually updated in response to current research and engagement with industry.
    • Focus is on up-to-date evidence-based learning with immediate application to practice.

    Enrol yourself in the following programmes:

    Rehabilitation papers on offer in 2020 semester 1 (Feb to June)

    • RHAB801 Occupational Ergonomics: Concepts of Moving and Handling: provides a foundation in the academic and contextual setting for the moving and handling professional. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB802 Vocational Management and Rehabilitation: Fosters critical synthesis and application of current evidence and theory to practice in vocational management and rehabilitation. Examines the relationship between work and health at individual and societal levels. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB805 Concepts of Rehabilitation (also offered in semester 2): Examines core concepts which underpin rehabilitation. Enables students to explore and challenge their own rehabilitation practice through critical review of theory, evidence, and practice. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB814 Clinical Anatomy: Provides detailed advanced applied and theoretical anatomy that links the anatomical evidence with advanced clinical practice. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB817 Biomechanics: Fosters the advanced study of mechanical principles and their association with the musculoskeletal system. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB818 Pain: Mechanisms and Management (also offered in semester 2): Provides neurophysiologic mechanisms of acute and chronic pain and the relation to clinical practice. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB819 Therapeutic Exercise Science: Explores and debates the scientific basis of exercise testing and prescription for special populations. Click on link to view paper flyer.

    Rehabilitation papers on offer in 2020 semester 2 (July to November)

    • HEAL801 Disability and Health: Develops a critical understanding of theories, policies and practices that influence the provision of health services to disabled people in New Zealand and Internationally. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB807 Motor Control in Rehabilitation: Develops a scientific approach to the therapeutic management of people with movement disorders. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB809 Stroke Management: Critiques and advances the knowledge of principles and practice of stroke care, prevention, management and rehabilitation in hospital and community settings. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB811 Health Ergonomics: Provides a broad based introduction to ergonomic principles and their application in the design of work, equipment and the workplace. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB812 Innovative Strategies: Engaging in Rehabilitation : Provides an overview of concepts, theories and research related to behaviour, beliefs and cognition and investigates how nursing, allied health professionals and others can apply them to practice in rehabilitation. Click on link to view paper flyer.
    • RHAB813 Breathing, Performance and Rehabilitation: Explores the role of breathing retraining in performance and rehabilitation for a wide range of professional practitioners who wish to optimise physical performance or rehabilitate disordered breathing patterns. Click on link to view paper flyer.

    Full Year rehabilitation paper (Feb to November )

    • RHAB806 Hand and Upper Limb Therapy: Encompasses advanced study in the practical and applied assessment of hand and upper limb dysfunction and the understanding and integration of the scientific and clinical research foundation of current medical, surgical and therapeutic management strategies for such dysfunction. Click on link to view paper flyer.

    View landscape graphic of postgraduate study progression in the rehabilitation pathway.

    For further information, contact Nicola Kayes (Professor of Rehabilitation and Director, Centre for Person Centred Research, School of Clinical Sciences):

    Phone: 09 921 9999 ext 7309 Email: nicola.kayes@aut.ac.nz

  • 13 Feb 2020 9:26 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    The Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit (RTRU) of the University of Otago welcomes students from anywhere in the country.  They are a distance learning unit to the following programmes:

    • PGCertRehab
    • PGDipRehab
    • Masters in Health Sciences by thesis or dissertation
    • PhD

    They are also very happy for students enrolled in other New Zealand tertiary institutions to take just one of their papers and include that in an award they are doing elsewhere (with the approval of their ‘home’ institution).  RTRU is also happy to consider crediting postgraduate study done elsewhere to their programmes.

    Papers on offer In 2020 Semester 1 (March to June)

    REHB701 Rehabilitation principles - addresses the core themes of rehabilitation and provides students with the tools to critique their own rehabilitation practices and develop innovations to local rehabilitation services. View paper information

    REHB703 Musculoskeletal rehabilitation - develop a more in-depth understanding of rehabilitation of a range of musculoskeletal disorders. View paper information

    REHB714 Personal and psychological factors in rehabilitation - examine psychological factors influencing rehabilitation by considering the "Personal Factors" component of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning Scheme. View paper information

    Papers on offer in 2020 Semester 2 (July to October)

    REHB712 Rethinking rehabilitation - Integration of the student’s reflections on their experience as clinician, consumer, funder/manager with research findings to evaluate contemporary and challenging rehabilitation process/outcome questions arising from their rehabilitation setting. View paper information

    REHB704 Neurological rehabilitation - A rehabilitation perspective on the assessment and management of a range of neurological conditions. View paper information

    REHB716 Rehabilitation with children - An investigation of theory, research and practice of inter-professional rehabilitation with children who have congenital or acquired health conditions in the context of family-centred practice. View paper information

    REHB706 Work rehabilitation - Understanding the workplace, workers and employers and using modern management techniques to reduce worksite injury and promote early return to work. View paper information

    And to help prospective students with planning ahead:

    • Papers repeated in 2021: REHB701, REHB714, REHB712, REHB706
    • Also offered in 2021: HASC701 Working in interprofessional teams, REHB707 – Rehabilitation for older adults
    • Next offered in 2022: REHB703, REHB704, REHB716


  • 04 Feb 2020 2:44 PM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Contributed by Alice Theadom, Director of the TBI Network

    I’ve been working the field of brain injury and concussion for the last 10 years now. It’s been a fantastic journey and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some great projects, work with some fabulous people and learn an incredible amount along the way. Recently however, I have realised that I’ve been so focused on writing papers, chasing research funding and supporting students that I haven’t been  giving enough time and attention to why I actually entered academia in the first place… to make a real difference to people’s lives!

    It’s also a personal thing. In 2011, I experienced a concussion myself - not that I knew about it at the time. I fell off a bolting horse and had multiple complex fractures to my arm and shoulder. My orthopaedic surgeon and rehab professionals were amazing and my shoulder was patched up in no time… however, that wasn’t the end of my journey.

    It was only after I stopped the painkillers and started to go back to work that my OT noticed something wasn’t quite right. I was struggling to concentrate, my emails were confused, I was still so fatigued… you know the signs.

    Once my concussion was picked up, I got the help and advice I needed. Even though I worked in the field and should’ve known just what to do, I still needed someone to talk through how it was affecting me specifically. The individual experience is so different to others and what the generic research says. I was one of the lucky ones, but I often reflect on why nobody asked me about my head at the emergency department or how things might have played out if my OT hadn’t picked it up.

    So after taking time to reflect, I decided to change my approach! With the help of a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, my faculty, the wider university and some amazing like-minded colleagues, last year we launched the TBI Network.


    The idea of the TBI Network is to help researchers undertake the research that matters, rather than the research that’s ‘nice to have’ or ‘what’s easy to do and publish’. To successfully focus on research that is going to make a real difference to the lives of individuals and their whānau suffering from TBI, we need the input from clinicians, policymakers and people with experience of TBI (both their own and from those who have supported those suffering from TBI), the power of the network.

    After talking to members of the TBI Network last year about where to prioritise our efforts initially, we’re currently working on:

    • How we can identify brain injuries more consistently across primary and emergency care and the different health care professions.
    • Different care pathways and how referrals might be processed more efficiently.
    • Undertaking more research into TBIs in vulnerable populations such as those in the youth justice systems, our prisons or those who suffer interpersonal violence.
    • Evaluating new treatments such as the treatment of visual disturbances and sharing the most up-to-date knowledge from across the globe.

    These are all complex and difficult issues, but we hope that they are areas that will make the biggest impact. To do this though we need to work together…

    So we invite anyone with an interest in TBI to join the Network. Its free (we’re a not-for -profit entity reliant on donations) and you can be as involved as little or as much as you like! You can see some of the things we’ve been up to already on our website:

    https://www.aut.ac.nz/traumatic-brain-injury-tbi-network

    To join up and receive our regular newsletters, simply enter your name and email into the contact us box and we’ll be in touch!

  • 23 Jan 2020 12:37 PM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    The latest issue of NZ Rehabilitation Review (Issue 49) is now available.

    Featured content is:

    • Experience of communicating chronic nonspecific lower back pain
    • Cannabis for pain management after spinal cord injury
    • Māori consumer experiences of health systems and programs
    • Implementation of a behavioural medicine approach in physiotherapy
    • Working alliance in acquired brain injury rehabilitation
    • Volunteering, participation and life satisfaction after TBI
    • Increasing dosage of occupational therapy and physiotherapy
    • Functional outcomes after occupational and physical therapy for TBI
    • Return to learning in concussed college students
    • Mild traumatic brain injury in New Zealand


  • 05 Dec 2019 12:34 PM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Contributed by Rachelle Martin, PhD, Burwood Academy of Independent Living

    I first met Jacinta when attending an ASSBI conference in Perth in 2015 as a nervous Masters student with a strong dose of the infamous imposter syndrome. I met her again in 2019 at the ASSBI/NZRA conference in Wellington. Amazingly, she remembered what I had studied and what I was planning to do for my PhD.    This is one of the many things I appreciate about her and something that comes through in her research - Jacinta is interested in people. She listens well. She is passionate about supporting others to live well. She also has great hair! 

    Jacinta has been involved in the production of a huge number of publications, chapters and reports.  What stands out in her publication list is the diversity of projects, students and colleagues, all caring about making a difference to how people communicate who they are and what their needs and desires are.

    Let me share one recent paper, authored with Kate D'Kruz and Tanya Serry,  with you...

    Personal narrative approaches in rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury: A synthesis of qualitative research

    Head to ResearchGate to request a full copy of this publication if you would like one.

    Sharing stories with others is an everyday human experience. Research evidence suggests that through narrative storytelling, we process and make sense of ourselves, creating a coherent life-narrative.

    The review aimed to identify and synthesise published evidence on the use of personal narrative approaches in rehabilitation following TBI.

    Findings from 12 qualitative research articles were synthesised. Written methods of narrative approaches were most evident, with only three articles utilising spoken methods, and visual methods used in two articles.

    One overall theme of building a strengths-based identity was developed, with four sub-themes:

    1.  expressing and communicating to others
    2. feeling validated by the act of someone listening
    3. reflecting and learning about oneself
    4. being productive. 

    The paper cites a poem from case study participant “Ned” (Pinhasi-Vittorio, 2007) alluding to his experience of growth from participation in writing.

    When I write, I feel
    When I feel I cry
    Others may pass me by
    but still I write to try
    to figure out the past, the present + analyse the future,
    of what may be to come
    because I …
    am not done
    but am just starting
    this rhyme
    This flow
    This dose do
    with word these verbs just won’t slow
    +will be with me while I grow (p. 121)

    To quote a section from the discussion:

    Successful reintegration into the community is a complex process of adjustment, coping and adaptation for both the survivors of TBI and their support network. Developing a positive identity focussed on strengths rather than impairments is increasingly understood as central to this process and reflected in holistic and multi-disciplinary approaches to TBI rehabilitation. Consistent with this strengths based approach, narrative, when understood from a constructivist perspective, presents a view on life after TBI that offers hope and a belief in the potential for change. Through story sharing, survivors of TBI are afforded a space to express and communicate their experiences and feelings, thus constructing their own personal story.

    A takeaway message: seek opportunities for survivors of TBI to share their stories.

    Another takeaway message: come and hear Jacinta speak for yourself!

    REGISTER NOW FOR CHRISTCHURCH - 13 Feb 2020

    REGISTER NOW FOR AUCKLAND - 14 Feb 2020

  • 14 Nov 2019 10:33 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    The NZRA is pleased to announce that Dr Rachelle Martin has been awarded the NZRA Emerging Rehabilitation Researcher 2019/20 grant. This grant is for $6,000.

    Rachelle aims to use to funding to explore the perceived health optimisation priorities of people living with the long-term experience of disability. She is keen to understand if there are differences for those with child- versus adult-onset impairments, or those with predominantly neurological versus musculoskeletal impairments.

    Rehabilitation funding and provision tends to be primarily focused on impairment onset (e.g., when a person is first diagnosed, or first acquire their health condition). However, since health can be defined as an emergent set of capacities that develop over a lifetime thereby enabling people to interact successfully with their physical psychological, and social environments, support may be required at different times in a persons life, as their environmental context changes, or within the trajectory of their health condition.

    Currently, there is little information available exploring the peoples own perceptions of their needs and priorities in terms of life-long health optimisation and rehabilitation. This exploratory research therefore aims to gain a ‘snapshot’ of the sorts of concerns that people who experience long term disability prioritise. Results will be use to inform the design of future research.

  • 07 Nov 2019 9:35 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Who me – biased? He ngākau haukume tōku?

    Wiki Haumaru Tūroro | Patient Safety Week 2019 is about understanding bias in health care. Having biases toward particular groups or individuals can affect their health as they may not get the proactive care they need.  To start to address this issue, the Health Quality & Safety Commission have developed three video learning modules on bias for people working in the health care sector who engage directly with consumers or who influence the way health organisations are managed.

    Module one: Understanding and addressing implicit bias
    Module two: Te Tiriti o Waitangi, colonisation and racism
    (featuring the amazing Dr Matire Harwood)
    Module three: Experiences of bias

    The modules are an introduction to bias in health care. They encourage health professionals to examine their biases and how they affect the health care they provide, their interactions with consumers, and therefore their health outcomes.

    Have a look, reflect on your own practice and be informed!

  • 22 Oct 2019 10:44 AM | Cecilia Clavijo (Administrator)

    Nikita McGruer, BHSC (Physio); Jennifer N. Baldwin PhD; Brian T. Ruakere, DHSc and Peter J. Larmer, DHSc

    School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology

    A recent paper published in the Journal of Primary Health Care investigates the lived experience of Māori women with osteoarthritis. Their experiences suggest that osteoarthritis adversely affects the spiritual and family wellbeing of Māori women in addition to their physical and mental health.

    Seven Māori females aged 44–71 years participated. Physical manifestations of osteoarthritis, namely pain and limited daily activities, affected mental, spiritual and family wellbeing. Participants experienced whakamā (a term to describe being ashamed or embarrassed) and frustration. Cultural duties such as attending the marae were impeded, affecting spiritual wellbeing and cultural identity. Participants described drawing on the strength of their ancestors to cope with their impairments. Western medicine was commonly used, although side-effects were prominent, and few participants had received information about the condition from health professionals.

    The authors recommend that culturally sensitive osteoarthritis education for Māori and their whānau is needed in primary care settings.

    The centrality of spiritual wellbeing within the Māori outlook on life emerged clearly […] through the themes of āhuatanga Māori and whakapapa. These themes are unique in that they address cultural identity, a significant aspect of being Māori. Critically, women in this study described how their osteoarthritis affected their ability to participate in activities at the marae, having serious implications for their spiritual wellbeing. Provision of information about the causes and management of osteoarthritis to marae and iwi would enable Māori to implement strategies to better support their own people while also maintaining the customs and protocols of their marae.

    Access to a copy of this paper is available via: https://www.publish.csiro.au/hc/pdf/HC18079



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