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  • APA strengthens physiotherapy ties with China

    Author: Karen Keast

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) will deliver seven courses to Chinese health professionals this year as it works to bolster the physiotherapy profession in the world’s most populous country.

Australia’s peak physiotherapy body delivered a three-day pilot course in December to more than 40 clinicians as part of a partnership with a Beijing-based sports medicine business.

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The APA is also working with a sub group of the Chinese Association of Rehabilitation Medicine (CARM) to strengthen academic training standards for physiotherapists and to advocate for the country’s physiotherapy profession to be regulated.

APA president Marcus Dripps said there’s an increasing emphasis on tapping into the benefits of physiotherapy, an evolving profession in China, to tackle the nation’s growing burden of disease.

“I’ve been over to China a few times over the last 18 months or so…and it strikes me that there’s a lot of movement from the authorities and the government over there towards trying to increase physical activity,” he said.


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“The policy initiatives being put in place to support that are around access to exercise space and exercise equipment and obviously some challenges in some of their towns around air quality but also the development of the professions that support overcoming barriers for participation in sport, and obviously physiotherapy is one of those.

“China has an enormous population and unfortunately an evolving burden of disease that is becoming more westernised, in particular conditions like diabetes and heart disease, arthritis and those kind of things are rapidly on the rise, and they’re looking for a community-based response to that.”

Mr Dripps, the CEO of Geelong’s Corio Bay Health Group, said China looked to Australian physiotherapy because of its strong global reputation.

“Australian physiotherapists led the way in the evolution of physiotherapy from being, in essence, an add-on within the hospital sector to perform rehabilitation of patients in hospitals towards being a more community facing primary contact profession,” he said.

“I think it’s because of this global reputation that we have the opportunity to work with people in many different countries to help develop clinicians to be able to meet the health needs of their respective communities.”

Mr Dripps attended the course, held in Beijing, and also delivered presentations to several hospital departments and to strength and conditioning professionals.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists Tamer Sabet and James Debenham presented the pilot course, based on the APA’s level one spinal program, which was delivered in English with live translation.

Mr Dripps said the course was an important starting point towards having a systematic approach to partnering with Chinese providers to establish quality professional development activities.

He said Australian physiotherapy’s ties with China could lead to further opportunities.

“It’s exciting - there’s obviously significant cultural challenges in China in terms of the community’s understanding as to what a profession like physiotherapy actually do and how might they benefit from it but there is such an enormous population and such significant health needs that I think there’s enormous opportunity in China, particularly.

“They’ve also got some fantastic access to technology and I think it’s very much a two-way partnership, even though at this stage the Australian profession is substantially much more developed than the Chinese one, I think there’s great opportunity for us to learn from them as well.”

Mr Dripps urged any Australian physiotherapists interested in teaching training practice in China to contact the APA.


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords