Building the capacity of Indian occupational therapists, Canadian student occupational therapists and occupational therapy services in rural South India through virtual fieldwork placements: A global partnership

Tele-rehabilitation is a relatively novel field that has the potential to significantly impact the management of non-communicable diseases globally, but especially in low and middle income countries (LMIC’s)  (Shenoy et al., 2018). Simply put, tele-rehabilitation is the ability to provide healthcare from a distance. It has the potential to create equity/access in health service provision, render health systems sustainable, help tackle the dearth of professional service providers and eventually help with prevention, and encourage screening and appropriate early intervention. We conducted a  study to understand stakeholders’ (international rehabilitation students, their supervisors, Indian rehabilitation workers, and parents of children with disabilities) perceptions of a global tele-rehabilitation partnership between Canadian Universities and Amar Seva Sangam. The aim is to understand the perceived benefits of a tele-rehabilitation partnership for both service providers and families of children with disabilities, who were the service beneficiaries. Such information could play an important role in designing other such programmes, improving existing programmes and in determining the benefit in investing in such programmes. According to the results of the present study, nearly 75% of the rehabilitation professionals believe that they would continue to use tele-rehabilitation post pandemic. Similarly, more than half the students indicated that such tele-rehabilitation placements should continue even once the pandemic ends. As for the parents, a majority of them stated that they would prefer a combination of on site and tele-rehabilitation services.

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