Allied health students embrace chance to work with children at Thai therapy centres

Published:05 February 2018

Allied Health students engaged with children in Thailand who have physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

CQUniversity Allied Health students recently embraced the chance to work at therapy centres for Thai children who have a variety of physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

They had the chance to use horse riding (hippotherapy), hydrotherapy, music therapy and aerobics and witnessed small functional, social and emotional gains in some children.

Others really embraced the consistent therapy and made some marked improvements.

The CQUGlobal outbound study tour enabled 15 Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology students to work at the Rachawadee centres for boys and girls in Bangkok.

The students were led by Physiotherapy lecturer Tanya Palmer and Occupational Therapy casual lecturer Kerrie-Anne Von Deest.

Ms Palmer says the boys and girls centres had more resources than expected but were still limited compared with those in Australia.

"We were impressed how cheerful and appreciated the children and staff are," she says.

"It was worthwhile to share our knowledge and skills with the Thai therapist, students and teachers. We were able to apply prior knowledge and to accommodate therapy and interventions with innovative ideas, drawing on current resources at the centres."

Speech Pathology student Hannah Thompson said it was challenging "to compare and forget the policies, procedures and regulations we work within in Australia and accept the way the centres function and operate in Thailand, in areas like manual handling and feeding of high-risk children".

Physiotherapy student Nikki Cooke says there was "some adjustment and rapid learning of each other's disciplines to work within the inter-professional environment".

"However, working with such amazing, well-rounded academics, we were all able to quickly acquire the required skills," she says.

Ms Palmer says friendships were built between like-minded students, while living together, exploring together and working together.

"Everyone has embraced the Thai culture, even enjoying some crickets and scorpions as entrée and learning bartering skills," she says.

This inter-professional study tour was organised by Physiotherapy lecturer Kate Gregory and supported by funding received through the New Colombo Mobility grants offered through the Australian government.