A Press Release To Share: Free Physiotherapy Education Directly Impacts The Lives Of Individuals With Spinal Cord Injuries

We are so excited by the outcomes of the recent open spinal injuries course that we want to run more free open courses.  We’re thinking global health, burns, amputees….. Please help us to shout about this story so that we may garner support for similar courses in the future.

As many of our regular followers will be aware we recently concluded our open online course titled ‘Physiotherapy management of spinal cord injuries‘.  We made the initial report in a post a few weeks ago where we highlighted some of the statistics and feedback related to the course.  Personally, I have been so enthused by this course. We have seen a great international community of people interested in spinal cord injuries come together to expand their knowledge, learn from each other and take their new knowledge into practice.  We never imagined that so many people would successfully complete the course or that we would see examples of a direct impact on clinical practice. A massive thank you goes out to Lisa Harvey and Jo Glinsky who provided the content and facilitated the course, without them it never would have happened.

Physiopedia has proven to be the perfect platform for delivering free education to people that otherwise might not have access to training in more specialised topics such as spinal cord injuries.   I am very excited for the future.  We are talking with several organisations to deliver more free courses in topics that are globally important yet don’t get covered particularly thoroughly in our university education. If as successful as the recent spinal injuries offering, courses on topics such as global health, burns management and amputee rehabilitation will go a long way towards contributing to global health and realising our mission.

Thanks for helping us to spread the word.  Feel free to use or share this press release:


3rd July 2014
Contact name: Rachael Lowe
Email: [email protected]

Free Physiotherapy Education Directly Impacts The Lives Of Individuals With Spinal Cord Injuries

Over 3500 physiotherapists from over 110 countries gathered online to complete a 5 week course to learn about the management of spinal cord injuries.

Spinal cord injuries are complex conditions that are a challenge to manage in any healthcare setting.  Management of spinal cord injury patients is a specialist topic that requires specific training but it is rarely covered in depth in the standard training of healthcare professionals.  This situation is particularly severe in less resourced countries where the clinics and healthcare workers don’t have access to the resources and education that others, in resourced countries, take for granted.  Unfortunately in many cases the result is that the individuals in these countries with spinal cord injuries suffer inadequate and inappropriate care, as they represent too large a challenge for many healthcare settings.

In a collaborative effort to develop a solution to this problem Physiopedia (a Wikipedia style collaborative web project for the physiotherapy profession) teamed up with Associate Professor Lisa Harvey and Dr Joanne Glinsky from the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) to deliver a free online course on the physiotherapy management of spinal cord injuries.  This five week course took place in May and June 2014.

The course, a MOOC (massive open online course), attracted over 3500 physiotherapists from over 100 countries around the world. Many of these were students and newly qualified physiotherapists yearning to increase their knowledge in this topic, while other participants were experienced practitioners keen to support and contribute to the course.  As a result the course fostered an active and inspiring community of physiotherapists from all over the world, all focused on improving their treatment of spinal cord injury patients.  The community learnt from not only the online resources that they were directed to study each week of the course but also through the peer to peer learning that occurred in the related active discussion forums.

Although the impact on clinical practice of a course of this scale cannot easily be measured, there was, through the course feedback and discussions, significant evidence of a direct impact on clinical practice.  One participant describes how she has “found the resources this week really useful and have already been able to apply current practice on my rehab ward”  Another participant stated that she had “learned the proper way to stretch fingers to optimise hand function….. I will change my stretch!”.

The outcomes of this MOOC suggest that it was an effective method for widening access to professional education and for encouraging global collaboration and it appears led in some cases to a direct impact on patient care.  MOOCs, regarded as an innovative way to increase access to education, have been widely adopted by universities across the world in many diverse subject areas.  However it is not common to see MOOCs aimed at educating health care workers to directly impact clinical practice or offered by organisations other than higher education institutions.  Physiopedia, a non profit organisation from the UK, has been the first organisation to adopt this approach in the provision of physiotherapy education.

Following this spinal injury course Physiopedia plans to deliver more free educational opportunities in the form of MOOCs to improve clinical management of conditions not traditionally taught in depth during training.  These courses will be created and delivered in collaboration with universities, professional and other non-profit organisations engaged in educating physiotherapists.  If your university or organisation is interested in getting involved in widening access to education in this way please contact Rachael Lowe at Physiopedia ([email protected]).

About Physiopedia:

Physiopedia (www.physio-pedia.com) is a non-profit organisation that aims to contribute to global health through universal access to physiotherapy knowledge. With nearly 2000 articles and around 190,000 unique visitors from over 200 countries per month, the collaboratively built wiki resource has become the one of the largest physiotherapy websites in the world. Making professional knowledge openly available, Physiopedia hopes to contribute to high levels of education globally which in turn will affect health care outcomes and contribute to global health.

About ISCoS:

The International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS)( www.iscos.org.uk) serves as an international impartial, non-political and non-profit making association whose purpose is to study all problems relating to traumatic and non-traumatic lesions of the spinal cord. This includes causes, prevention, basic and clinical research, medical and surgical management, clinical practice, education, rehabilitation and social reintegration. This society functions in close collaboration with other national and international bodies, thereby encouraging the most efficient use of available resources.


For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Rachael Lowe please email Rachael directly at: [email protected]