Physical therapists should be considered central to disaster management, and an intrinsic part of planning for and responding to events such as earthquakes and floods. That is the message of a major new WCPT publication.
The report,The Role of Physical Therapists in Disaster Management, points to the need for high quality rehabilitation after disasters. But it also emphasises that the role of physical therapists is not limited to direct provision of rehabilitation. It embraces preparedness and recovery and can include assessment, coordination, psycho-social support and advocacy.
The in-depth report was informed by a project advisory group including representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mèdicins Sans Frontières, CBM International and WCPT member organisations in Japan and the Philippines. “It is a very timely document, and will be a great resource for physical therapists, in particular those involved in the disaster continuum as well as student education,” said WCPT Vice President Margot Skinner, who was a member of the project advisory group.
“Disasters are a growing global problem,” said Pete Skelton, a physiotherapist working for Handicap International, who co-authored the report. “This guide provides critical information to those interested in national or international disaster response, introducing key international guidance and evidence. Critically, it is also designed to help physical therapists plan and prepare for disasters before they occur, and to support those who are re-building after a disaster has hit.”