Pakistan News

Physiotherapists pin hopes on new govt for setting up regulatory body

Physiotherapists pin hopes on new govt for setting up regulatory body

PESHAWAR: Lack of a regulatory council in the country has been hampering promotion of physiotherapy services including non-pharmaceutical interventions and exercises for body pains and rehabilitation of people with disabilities to a desired level, according to experts.

The federal cabinet in its last meeting approved a draft for setting up Pakistan Physical Therapy Council that was sent to law department for vetting. More than 20,000 doctors of physical therapy have pinned hopes on the new government for legislation to enable them to provide treatment to people.

Currently, the physiotherapists have no regulatory body and they are not allowed to receive patients independently so they banked on the advice of medical doctors.

The formation of council would enable them to work as autonomous practitioners and benefit patients. The council would speed up upgradation of physical therapy services in Khyber Pakhtunkhtunkhwa, which is the only province to have these at the government hospitals at district level.

Formation of council will enable them to work as autonomous practitioners

During the past three years, the provincial health department appointed 50 doctors of physiotherapy (DPT), including 25 females, at district headquarters hospitals to serve the patients at local level. Prior to their appointment at district level, patients used to travel to Peshawar for treatment.

KP is the first province to launch ‘Strengthening of Rehabilitation Programme for Physically Disabled’ to treat people suffering from low back pain, poliomyelitis, arthritis, knee joint pain, cerebral palsy, stroke or those requiring physical exercises after recovering from fractures or the ones seeking cure for postoperative problems.

More than 100 institutions in the country including King Edwards Medical College Lahore and Khyber Medical University (KMU) Peshawar have been recognised by Higher Education Commission (HEC) but the graduates didn’t have permission to treat patients unless they were referred to them by doctors.

Efforts for formation of the council began in 2011 to set their scope of practice and form a regulatory body and provide treatment to people in line with the law but the same was still awaited.

KP established a well-equipped directorate of physical therapy and rehabilitation at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) Peshawar in September 2016.

The LRH model is being replicated throughout the country to provide services to people with sciatica, back, joint and neck pain, spinal card injury, people with muscle weakness.

It has four types of services including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, prosthetic and orthotics department and clubfoot clinic where people get free services.

Dr Mohammad Khan, the director of the physical therapy and rehabilitation at LRH, said that they got occupational therapy and clubfoot department that were the only facilities in any public sector hospital in the country.

He said that the services enhanced life style of people with disabilities and reduced their dependency on others for carrying out routine work. The handicapped people were trained on how to hold pen, change clothes, wear socks and shoes, attend bathrooms in addition to driving vehicles by carrying out modification to ensure their accessibilities through changing patterns and alternation, he said.

Dr Mohammad Khan said that 15 per cent of their patients were locals while the rest were referred to the respective district headquarters hospitals after their first examination.

“We receive patients from surgical, orthopedic, plastic surgery, peads, gynae, medical and neurology and intensive care unit for physical therapy. We also impart training to KMU students,” he said.

Experts said that formation of PPCT would pave the way for awareness regarding the significance of physical therapy in reduction of burden of disabilities and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities by making houses, mosques, hospitals and government’s departments accessible to them.

“UN says that 12 per cent people of the province suffer from disabilities. Most of the disabilities can snowball into major health conditions if left untreated,” said Dr Mohammad Khan.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2018

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