ReLAB-HS provides training in fundamental rehabilitation knowledge to improve health outcomes

The 2023 Physiopedia and ReLAB-HS massive open online course provided training in fundamental rehabilitation knowledge to rehabilitation professionals all over the globe to towards the delivery of high quality rehabilitation services for improved functioning and health outcomes.

Rehabilitation, as defined by the World Health Organization, helps individuals achieve optimal functioning. It involves various interventions and techniques addressing impairments, limitations, and restrictions, considering personal and environmental factors. Accurate measurement and monitoring are crucial for selecting appropriate rehabilitation interventions and confidence in fundamental rehabilitation assessment techniques is essential for efficient care.

”One cannot change what one cannot measure”, it’s our very basic and logical thinking that we need to remind ourselves of in every rehabilitation session”.

In September 2023, ReLAB-HS, led by Physiopedia, offered a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Understanding Basic Rehabilitation Techniques Programme”. This 4-week programme on Physiopedia Plus (Plus) comprised 8 courses, 2 live webinars with topic experts and an optional final assignment. It aimed to equip rehabilitation professionals with knowledge of fundamental rehabilitation techniques for effective care and principles guiding selection of rehabilitation techniques so they can play an effective and proactive role in global and local efforts to increase access to high quality rehabilitation and improve health outcomes. 

“This course is excellent! Personally it provided a big review of basic rehabilitation techniques for me and more importantly it has reinforced my determination to incorporate the concept of ICF in the course of my practice in patient care.”

Building a skilled rehabilitation workforce is one of the key areas which will underpin the scaling up of rehabilitation as a health priority towards Rehabilitation 2030. With less than 10 skilled practitioners per 1 million population in many low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings, improving access to education is a priority.  The 11th annual Physiopedia MOOC trained around 1350 people in rehabilitation knowledge.

MOOCs are freely available courses, delivered online, on a suitable platform and have the potential to engage a large number of learners from different countries at any one time. They provide an accessible, affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance careers and deliver quality education experiences at scale. This course reached a very wide and varied demographic. A total of 103 countries were represented with a fairly even split between high and low income settings, with representation from 26 different healthcare professions across multiple workplace contexts. The gender distribution was nearly 2:1 women to men and the majority were in the 25–34 age range  (see more data in the evaluation report).

There was a high (63–100%) completion rate for each individual course included in the programme, with the highest completion rates seen among those from LMICs, with a statistically significant improvement in knowledge reported. Overall it appears that the MOOC served to provide new knowledge of basic rehabilitation skills for novices or deeper revision for more advanced practitioners. One participant highlighted that it was “an excellent course for basic levels and fantastic revision for advanced levels!” with another stating that the course “supplied virtually every piece of information needed for assessment techniques in rehabilitation!”. Many participants were grateful for revised knowledge and enthusiastic about the extensive detail that forced reflection on current practice and the opportunity to improve the provision of care.

“It’s a great pleasure for me to be part of this program. I have significantly improved my knowledge and skills which can guide me to effective service delivery to my patients.”

Accessible and affordable online courses continue to provide an effective method to improve rehabilitation knowledge, skills and services globally. With USAID support, Physiopedia as part of ReLAB-HS will continue to develop online courses related to rehabilitation to improve knowledge and skills in healthcare professionals worldwide in an effort to contribute towards building a skilled rehabilitation workforce to meet the need for rehabilitation services.

This work is supported by the USAID funded Learning Acting Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems (ReLAB-HS) project and is not possible without the generous and committed contribution of the Leahy War Victims fund.

ReLAB-HS is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented under cooperative agreement number 7200AA20CA00033. The consortium is managed by prime recipient, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.