Restorative neuroscience professor calls for wider application of professional skills to improve outcomes
Jane Burridge, Head of the Neurorehabilitation Research Group and Professor of Restorative Neuroscience at University of Southampton, has been elected President of ACPIN, the prestigious association for those who specialise in such complex conditions as Stroke, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Injury, Motor Neurone Disease and many more. Professor Burridge is a Chartered Physiotherapist and also graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She previously worked as a neurological physiotherapist as well as a professional musician for 10 years, before gaining her PhD at the age of 48.
The election, by the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology, took place on 24 March at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre opposite Westminster Abbey, where ACPIN was holding its 2017 annual conference. This is close to where the attacks took place two days previously. Speaking immediately after a paralympian whose life was transformed by neurophysiotherapy, and the professionals who coached and cared for her, Professor Burridge said that neurological physiotherapists were now more effective than ever before. Reasons for this included:
• discoveries in neuroscience that enable us to understand much more about neurological diseases, their progression and people’s recover
• technologies that provide powerful tools for therapy and assessment, and which can be used across the field of rehabilitation and
• clear evidence now being assembled for new and established treatments
Accordingly, ACPIN stands ready to work ever more closely with governments, health commissioners, patient organisations and medical colleagues to ensure that improved outcomes and economic benefits are more widely and speedily available. But leaders need ‘a seat at the table’ where budgets, strategies and healthcare pathways are debated and decided upon, across a wide range of neurological conditions, she stressed.
Professor Burridge concluded “ACPIN is the organisation through which the impact of neurological physiotherapy can be raised. My ambition as President is to achieve this through better recognition of our work, education, research, and by raising the status of our profession.”
Inaugural Presidential address
24 March 2017
Never before have physiotherapists had so much power to change the lives of people with neurological conditions
Why is that? Three reasons:
1 Discoveries in neuroscience have enabled us to understand much more about neurological diseases, their progression and people’s recovery
2 Technologies are providing us with very powerful tools both for therapy and assessment. And these tools can be used across the field of rehabilitation
3 We are now generating clear evidence for our treatments, both new and established
Together these mean as practicing neurological physiotherapists we can be more effective.
Our profession is stronger than ever:
• More physiotherapists are highly trained than ever before with a Master’s degree rapidly becoming the norm and Doctorates in clinical practice and PhDs increasingly common
• More physiotherapists than ever before are leading research
• More physiotherapists than ever before are following a clinical/academic pathway so that research is grounded in clinical need and translates in to clinical practice
But do people know this?
Are the media aware of the power of neurological physiotherapy?
Are the Government, NHS Commissioners or even our medical colleagues aware of the importance of physiotherapy in neurology?
Do they understand that physiotherapists diagnose, assess and treat patients independently and that in many cases are mainly or solely responsibility for patient’s healthcare?
We have a lot of work to do to ensure that we use our power to improve the lives of our patients, and these are the areas I think we need to target:
• Publicising neurological physiotherapy – we need more ‘air time’, more mention in government reports and national guidelines. Better education of the general public Commissioners, policy-makers, healthcare strategists and patients about what we do
• Better funding (that goes almost without saying) but funding will be driven by cost-effective evidence
• Raising the educational ‘norm’ of neurological physiotherapy. We need a target there - that 50% of specialist neurological physiotherapists have at least a Master’s level qualification – so that
• Increasing opportunities for CPD to immediately improve clinical practice
We need more consultant neurological physiotherapists, and senior academics with clinical backgrounds who raise our status and recognition, who are highly skilled practitioners and are engaged in useful research that translates into clinical practice so that we can:
• Deliver better therapy
• Provide rewarding career opportunities, that will make the profession attractive to talented and ambitious people
• Demonstrate that what we do is evidence-based and ensure that new treatments and technologies are designed by us and with patients so that they are fit-for-purpose
• We need ‘a seat at the table’ where budgets, strategies and healthcare pathways are debated and decided upon, across the wide range of neurological conditions where physiotherapy is important; not just Stroke, PD, SCI and MS and Brain Injury.
I am honoured to be the new President of ACPIN and excited at taking on the challenge to support, and I hope inspire you
The future holds great potential, but we need self-confidence, imagination and team-work to realise it.
ACPIN is the organisation through which this can be achieved
• ACPIN unites neurological physiotherapists, making us powerful and effective
• The new Executive Committee structure has been designed to achieve these ambitious goals, with representation across all areas of the membership
• Ideas generated at the Futures Symposium in January this year will form the basis of a new ambitious strategic plan
Finally, I want to say some thank yous:
Firstly, my predecessor Fiona Jones, who has done so much to make ACPIN what it is today and set the scene for the future.
I especially want to thank two people without whom it seems to me ACPIN would not thrive.
Jakko Brouwers, our Chairman, who seems to have boundless energy and more hours in the day than the rest of us. His commitment, time and strong leadership is awe-inspiring and we thank him.
He would be the first to say that he could not do his job without Adine Adonis. As Vice-chair she is incredibly supportive, equally hard-working and committed and ensures that it is easy for everyone else to do their job.
I also personally want to thank Richard Denyer, our CEO, who has been extremely helpful to me over the last few weeks as I have prepared to take on this role. Thank you, Richard, I am looking forward to working with you. Your wisdom and experience have, I think, already been shown to be of great benefit to ACPIN.
Thank you to all our speakers and all those behind the scenes who have made this conference so special and successful.
And lastly thank you to you, the delegates and members of ACPIN – you are the corner stone.