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Multidisciplinary team experience spices up study tour to Thailand

Published:09 April 2019

Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Exercise and Sports Science students have returned from a study tour to Thailand's Rachawadee disability centres.

Thailand's Rachawadee disability centres recently welcomed 16 of CQUniversity's Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Exercise and Sports Science students.

Students were able to work in multidisciplinary teams to work with residents who have a variety of significant physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

They were supported by CQUniversity academics Dr Joshua Guy (Exercise and Sports Science), Kerrie-Anne Von Deest (Occupational Therapy), and Tanya Palmer (Physiotherapy), who also organised the study tour through Antipodeans Abroad and the CQUGlobal Outbound Program, with funding support from the Federal Government's New Colombo Plan.

"They were the third group of Allied Health students to visit the centres in Thailand," Ms Palmer says.

"This year, the group returned to two of the Rachawadee disability centres; namely the boys' and girls' centres, and also expanded to provide therapy to two new centres within the Rachawadee Foundation.

"The two new centres included the Nonthaburi homeless centre for adults and the Baan Fuang Fah centre for 0-7 year olds. All centres are located in Nonthaburi, a northern suburb of Bangkok, Thailand."

Exercise and Sports Science student Marika Spann says the Rachawadee residents were "so happy to see us each morning, ready in the gym to do their workouts".

Meantime, the CQUni students' fundraising efforts meant the Baan Fuang Fah Centre could purchase new swimwear for the children, so more could enjoy hydrotherapy.

Ms Palmer says the centres were bright and colourful and welcomed the CQUni visitors with open arms.

"They have more resources than we expected but were still very limited compared to Australian standards.

"It was great being able to share our knowledge and skills with the Thai therapist, students and teachers.

"Our students were part of a team within the centres and were included in all activities including hippotherapy, hydrotherapy, music therapy, aerobics, yoga, and dance.

"Over nine days, we were seeing small functional, social and emotional gains in some children. Others have vastly embraced consistent therapy and are making marked improvements.

"Our students appreciated being able to apply prior knowledge and accommodate therapy/interventions with innovative ideas using what resources the centres currently have.

"Some adjustment and rapid learning of each other’s disciplines to work within the inter-professional environment was required initially, however working with such amazing, well-rounded academics, we were all able to quickly acquire the required skills."

Ms Palmer says each discipline involved in the study tour was able to link the outcomes to an assessment item or unit.