As 18 students crossed the Bay of Bengal for their study tour to Bengaluru, India, little did they know that they would experience a different side to physiotherapy – its applications for disabled communities.

 


(far right) Mr. Thirumalaya, INTI’s Head of Programme for Physiotherapy, and his students posing for a group photograph in India

The study tour to The Association of People with Disability (APD) was organized by INTI International University’s (INTI) Physiotherapy program as part of INTI’s hands-on clinical skills training abroad. The study program served as a platform for the students to formulate physiotherapeutic exercises and treatments for those with physical disabilities, by learning from current global industry experts and initiatives.

“When rendering services to persons with disabilities (PwDs), there are various physiotherapy interventions to improve their physical function and community participation,” commented Thirumalaya Balaraman, INTI’s Head of Programme for Physiotherapy.

“For PwDs, treatment typically involves therapeutic exercises, mobility training, use of electro-physical agents and assistive technology. These treatments provide patients with increased mobility, strength, quality of life, physical independence and boosts self-morale as well,” adds Thirumalaya.

While at APD, the students participated in various extensive programs for PwDs from underprivileged communities in India. They were involved in activities such as hydrotherapy management, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, and assistive technology in rehabilitation. The students also learned about early intervention management for children with disabilities and witnessed APD’s initiatives in producing customizable and cheaper orthotic devices for PwDs in India.

 


Budding INTI physiotherapists posing for a group photograph during their study tour in India

Lee Joo Ann, a fourth year INTI student pursuing her BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy who participated in the study tour, shared, “The study tour has been a meaningful, impactful and memorable trip for me. Thanks to the trip, I have learned and witnessed first-hand the different physiotherapy techniques specifically for PwDs and experienced the importance of giving our care, attention and love to them.”

Despite Malaysia’s ratification of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010 and the enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 (Act 685), PwDs in Malaysia continue to be marginalized and face discrimination . In efforts to address this, the Malaysian Plan of Action for People with Disabilities 2016-2022 was launched to ensure that programmes organized in Malaysia eliminates disability discrimination and meet the current needs of the group.

Vice Chancellor of INTI International University, Dr. Joseph Lee shared his point on the matter, “At INTI we recognize the prevalence of disability discrimination, hence we ensure our students’ outreach involve diverse pockets of communities, including communities of PwDs in Malaysia. This allows our budding practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of physiotherapy and sensitizes them to the different needs of future patients.”

Dr. Joseph adds, “Apart from INTI’s study tour to APD, INTI has conducted other charity projects for the communities of PwDs in Malaysia. These initiatives are in line with the Malaysian Plan of Action for People with Disabilities 2016-2022 policy objectives, which aims to eliminate disability discrimination and to educate and increase society awareness towards persons with disabilities.”