We are keen to regularly profile rehabilitation-related research conducted within NZ.  Please contact us if you would like us to profile a published paper, poster or conference presentation

  • 13 Feb 2020 9:26 AM | Anonymous

    The Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit (RTRU) of the University of Otago welcomes students from anywhere in the country.  They are a distance learning unit to the following programmes:

    • PGCertRehab
    • PGDipRehab
    • Masters in Health Sciences by thesis or dissertation
    • PhD

    They are also very happy for students enrolled in other New Zealand tertiary institutions to take just one of their papers and include that in an award they are doing elsewhere (with the approval of their ‘home’ institution).  RTRU is also happy to consider crediting postgraduate study done elsewhere to their programmes.

    Papers on offer In 2020 Semester 1 (March to June)

    REHB701 Rehabilitation principles - addresses the core themes of rehabilitation and provides students with the tools to critique their own rehabilitation practices and develop innovations to local rehabilitation services. View paper information

    REHB703 Musculoskeletal rehabilitation - develop a more in-depth understanding of rehabilitation of a range of musculoskeletal disorders. View paper information

    REHB714 Personal and psychological factors in rehabilitation - examine psychological factors influencing rehabilitation by considering the "Personal Factors" component of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning Scheme. View paper information

    Papers on offer in 2020 Semester 2 (July to October)

    REHB712 Rethinking rehabilitation - Integration of the student’s reflections on their experience as clinician, consumer, funder/manager with research findings to evaluate contemporary and challenging rehabilitation process/outcome questions arising from their rehabilitation setting. View paper information

    REHB704 Neurological rehabilitation - A rehabilitation perspective on the assessment and management of a range of neurological conditions. View paper information

    REHB716 Rehabilitation with children - An investigation of theory, research and practice of inter-professional rehabilitation with children who have congenital or acquired health conditions in the context of family-centred practice. View paper information

    REHB706 Work rehabilitation - Understanding the workplace, workers and employers and using modern management techniques to reduce worksite injury and promote early return to work. View paper information

    And to help prospective students with planning ahead:

    • Papers repeated in 2021: REHB701, REHB714, REHB712, REHB706
    • Also offered in 2021: HASC701 Working in interprofessional teams, REHB707 – Rehabilitation for older adults
    • Next offered in 2022: REHB703, REHB704, REHB716

  • 04 Feb 2020 2:44 PM | Anonymous

    Contributed by Alice Theadom, Director of the TBI Network

    I’ve been working the field of brain injury and concussion for the last 10 years now. It’s been a fantastic journey and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some great projects, work with some fabulous people and learn an incredible amount along the way. Recently however, I have realised that I’ve been so focused on writing papers, chasing research funding and supporting students that I haven’t been  giving enough time and attention to why I actually entered academia in the first place… to make a real difference to people’s lives!

    It’s also a personal thing. In 2011, I experienced a concussion myself - not that I knew about it at the time. I fell off a bolting horse and had multiple complex fractures to my arm and shoulder. My orthopaedic surgeon and rehab professionals were amazing and my shoulder was patched up in no time… however, that wasn’t the end of my journey.

    It was only after I stopped the painkillers and started to go back to work that my OT noticed something wasn’t quite right. I was struggling to concentrate, my emails were confused, I was still so fatigued… you know the signs.

    Once my concussion was picked up, I got the help and advice I needed. Even though I worked in the field and should’ve known just what to do, I still needed someone to talk through how it was affecting me specifically. The individual experience is so different to others and what the generic research says. I was one of the lucky ones, but I often reflect on why nobody asked me about my head at the emergency department or how things might have played out if my OT hadn’t picked it up.

    So after taking time to reflect, I decided to change my approach! With the help of a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, my faculty, the wider university and some amazing like-minded colleagues, last year we launched the TBI Network.

    The idea of the TBI Network is to help researchers undertake the research that matters, rather than the research that’s ‘nice to have’ or ‘what’s easy to do and publish’. To successfully focus on research that is going to make a real difference to the lives of individuals and their whānau suffering from TBI, we need the input from clinicians, policymakers and people with experience of TBI (both their own and from those who have supported those suffering from TBI), the power of the network.

    After talking to members of the TBI Network last year about where to prioritise our efforts initially, we’re currently working on:

    • How we can identify brain injuries more consistently across primary and emergency care and the different health care professions.
    • Different care pathways and how referrals might be processed more efficiently.
    • Undertaking more research into TBIs in vulnerable populations such as those in the youth justice systems, our prisons or those who suffer interpersonal violence.
    • Evaluating new treatments such as the treatment of visual disturbances and sharing the most up-to-date knowledge from across the globe.

    These are all complex and difficult issues, but we hope that they are areas that will make the biggest impact. To do this though we need to work together…

    So we invite anyone with an interest in TBI to join the Network. Its free (we’re a not-for -profit entity reliant on donations) and you can be as involved as little or as much as you like! You can see some of the things we’ve been up to already on our website:

    To join up and receive our regular newsletters, simply enter your name and email into the contact us box and we’ll be in touch!

  • 23 Jan 2020 12:37 PM | Anonymous

    The latest issue of NZ Rehabilitation Review (Issue 49) is now available.

    Featured content is:

    • Experience of communicating chronic nonspecific lower back pain
    • Cannabis for pain management after spinal cord injury
    • Māori consumer experiences of health systems and programs
    • Implementation of a behavioural medicine approach in physiotherapy
    • Working alliance in acquired brain injury rehabilitation
    • Volunteering, participation and life satisfaction after TBI
    • Increasing dosage of occupational therapy and physiotherapy
    • Functional outcomes after occupational and physical therapy for TBI
    • Return to learning in concussed college students
    • Mild traumatic brain injury in New Zealand

  • 05 Dec 2019 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    Contributed by Rachelle Martin, PhD, Burwood Academy of Independent Living

    I first met Jacinta when attending an ASSBI conference in Perth in 2015 as a nervous Masters student with a strong dose of the infamous imposter syndrome. I met her again in 2019 at the ASSBI/NZRA conference in Wellington. Amazingly, she remembered what I had studied and what I was planning to do for my PhD.    This is one of the many things I appreciate about her and something that comes through in her research - Jacinta is interested in people. She listens well. She is passionate about supporting others to live well. She also has great hair! 

    Jacinta has been involved in the production of a huge number of publications, chapters and reports.  What stands out in her publication list is the diversity of projects, students and colleagues, all caring about making a difference to how people communicate who they are and what their needs and desires are.

    Let me share one recent paper, authored with Kate D'Kruz and Tanya Serry,  with you...

    Personal narrative approaches in rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury: A synthesis of qualitative research

    Head to ResearchGate to request a full copy of this publication if you would like one.

    Sharing stories with others is an everyday human experience. Research evidence suggests that through narrative storytelling, we process and make sense of ourselves, creating a coherent life-narrative.

    The review aimed to identify and synthesise published evidence on the use of personal narrative approaches in rehabilitation following TBI.

    Findings from 12 qualitative research articles were synthesised. Written methods of narrative approaches were most evident, with only three articles utilising spoken methods, and visual methods used in two articles.

    One overall theme of building a strengths-based identity was developed, with four sub-themes:

    1.  expressing and communicating to others
    2. feeling validated by the act of someone listening
    3. reflecting and learning about oneself
    4. being productive. 

    The paper cites a poem from case study participant “Ned” (Pinhasi-Vittorio, 2007) alluding to his experience of growth from participation in writing.

    When I write, I feel
    When I feel I cry
    Others may pass me by
    but still I write to try
    to figure out the past, the present + analyse the future,
    of what may be to come
    because I …
    am not done
    but am just starting
    this rhyme
    This flow
    This dose do
    with word these verbs just won’t slow
    +will be with me while I grow (p. 121)

    To quote a section from the discussion:

    Successful reintegration into the community is a complex process of adjustment, coping and adaptation for both the survivors of TBI and their support network. Developing a positive identity focussed on strengths rather than impairments is increasingly understood as central to this process and reflected in holistic and multi-disciplinary approaches to TBI rehabilitation. Consistent with this strengths based approach, narrative, when understood from a constructivist perspective, presents a view on life after TBI that offers hope and a belief in the potential for change. Through story sharing, survivors of TBI are afforded a space to express and communicate their experiences and feelings, thus constructing their own personal story.

    A takeaway message: seek opportunities for survivors of TBI to share their stories.

    Another takeaway message: come and hear Jacinta speak for yourself!



  • 14 Nov 2019 10:33 AM | Anonymous

    The NZRA is pleased to announce that Dr Rachelle Martin has been awarded the NZRA Emerging Rehabilitation Researcher 2019/20 grant. This grant is for $6,000.

    Rachelle aims to use to funding to explore the perceived health optimisation priorities of people living with the long-term experience of disability. She is keen to understand if there are differences for those with child- versus adult-onset impairments, or those with predominantly neurological versus musculoskeletal impairments.

    Rehabilitation funding and provision tends to be primarily focused on impairment onset (e.g., when a person is first diagnosed, or first acquire their health condition). However, since health can be defined as an emergent set of capacities that develop over a lifetime thereby enabling people to interact successfully with their physical psychological, and social environments, support may be required at different times in a persons life, as their environmental context changes, or within the trajectory of their health condition.

    Currently, there is little information available exploring the peoples own perceptions of their needs and priorities in terms of life-long health optimisation and rehabilitation. This exploratory research therefore aims to gain a ‘snapshot’ of the sorts of concerns that people who experience long term disability prioritise. Results will be use to inform the design of future research.

  • 07 Nov 2019 9:35 AM | Anonymous

    Who me – biased? He ngākau haukume tōku?

    Wiki Haumaru Tūroro | Patient Safety Week 2019 is about understanding bias in health care. Having biases toward particular groups or individuals can affect their health as they may not get the proactive care they need.  To start to address this issue, the Health Quality & Safety Commission have developed three video learning modules on bias for people working in the health care sector who engage directly with consumers or who influence the way health organisations are managed.

    Module one: Understanding and addressing implicit bias
    Module two: Te Tiriti o Waitangi, colonisation and racism
    (featuring the amazing Dr Matire Harwood)
    Module three: Experiences of bias

    The modules are an introduction to bias in health care. They encourage health professionals to examine their biases and how they affect the health care they provide, their interactions with consumers, and therefore their health outcomes.

    Have a look, reflect on your own practice and be informed!

  • 22 Oct 2019 10:44 AM | Anonymous

    Nikita McGruer, BHSC (Physio); Jennifer N. Baldwin PhD; Brian T. Ruakere, DHSc and Peter J. Larmer, DHSc

    School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology

    A recent paper published in the Journal of Primary Health Care investigates the lived experience of Māori women with osteoarthritis. Their experiences suggest that osteoarthritis adversely affects the spiritual and family wellbeing of Māori women in addition to their physical and mental health.

    Seven Māori females aged 44–71 years participated. Physical manifestations of osteoarthritis, namely pain and limited daily activities, affected mental, spiritual and family wellbeing. Participants experienced whakamā (a term to describe being ashamed or embarrassed) and frustration. Cultural duties such as attending the marae were impeded, affecting spiritual wellbeing and cultural identity. Participants described drawing on the strength of their ancestors to cope with their impairments. Western medicine was commonly used, although side-effects were prominent, and few participants had received information about the condition from health professionals.

    The authors recommend that culturally sensitive osteoarthritis education for Māori and their whānau is needed in primary care settings.

    The centrality of spiritual wellbeing within the Māori outlook on life emerged clearly […] through the themes of āhuatanga Māori and whakapapa. These themes are unique in that they address cultural identity, a significant aspect of being Māori. Critically, women in this study described how their osteoarthritis affected their ability to participate in activities at the marae, having serious implications for their spiritual wellbeing. Provision of information about the causes and management of osteoarthritis to marae and iwi would enable Māori to implement strategies to better support their own people while also maintaining the customs and protocols of their marae.

    Access to a copy of this paper is available via:

  • 03 Sep 2019 3:35 PM | Anonymous

    The 42nd Annual ASSBI Conference was held this year collaboration with the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association (NZRA) at the TSB Arena in Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington is known for its somewhat unpredictable and occasionally unforgiving weather, but put on a phenomenal three days of sunshine and clear skies for us.

    The conference theme this year was: “A Call to Action”, drawing on the primary objectives of the World Health Organisation’s Rehabilitation Strategy to 2030. The conference was attended by 261 registrants from all corners of the world: Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Estonia, Hong Kong and The Russian Federation. The programme involved plenary sessions from international and national speakers, plus four highly successful preconference workshops, 56 platform papers, 26 datablitz papers, 46 posters, and 5 ‘How to’ sessions.

    The conference was opened on the evening of Day 1, with a welcome from Mark Orbsby and Leigh Andrews – mana whenua representatives from Te Whanganui-a-Tara (the Wellington region). Prior in the day, our keynote speakers (Prof. Fiona Jones, Prof. Fary Kahn, Prof. Jonathan Evans, and Dr Matire Harwood) had provided a series of workshops on topics including: self-management after brain injury, practical aspects of research methods, rehabilitation of memory and executive function and strategies to better meet the needs of indigenous people.

    On Day 2, Fiona Jones provided an inspiring talk on her CREATE project, which has involved co-production principles to improve patient, carer and staff experiences in inpatient stroke units in the UK. A key message from this presentation was how much could be achieved through robust partnerships between patients, families and health professionals.

    Following this plenary, a panel discussion on the topic of “Upscaling Rehabilitation: Policy, Practice, and Politics” was led by Dr Kathie Irwin (Head of Māori and Cultural Capability at the Accident Compensation Corporation, NZ), Anne Hawker (Principle Disability Advisor for the Ministry of Social Development, NZ), and Prof Kath McPherson (Chief Executive of the Health Research Council, NZ). These three fabulous speakers gently challenged our ideas about how to develop rehabilitation in the future, including how to break out of status quo thinking on service delivery and community engagement.

    Annual General Meetings for both ASSBI and NZRA were held on Day 2, which saw the election of Prof Robyn Tate and myself to the roles of President for these two organisations, respectively. Our conference dinner was held that evening at the Harbourside Function Venue on the Wellington harbour. Many moves were busted out on the dance floor. No hips were dislocated to anyone’s knowledge. Word has it that the night did not end when the Harbourside Function Venue closed at midnight, but continued – at least for some – in a karaoke bar down the street into the wee hours of the morning.

    Day 3 began with an insightful, thought-provoking and wide-ranging presentation from Jon Evans on the topic of music, mindfulness and positive psychotherapy after brain injury. This was followed by many more platform, data blitz, and ‘how to’ presentations throughout the day, covering topics from: paediatric rehabilitation, to information technology in rehabilitation, to research into collaborative approaches and diverse perspectives in rehabilitation. The day, and conference, ended with our award ceremony and prizes. The following is a list of prizes and awarded given out on the day:

    • Douglas Tate Award 2018 - Alice Theadom for her publication in Brain Impairment. 2018 Volume 19, Special Issue 2 (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) – Brain Impairment Theadom, A; Barker-Collo, S; Greenwood, A; Parmar, P; Jones, K; Starkey, N; McPherson, K and Feigin VL on behalf of the BIONIC Research Group Do Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Severity Sub-Classification Systems Help to Identify People Who Go on to Experience Long-Term Symptoms?
    • ASSBI Student Awards -

    o Kevin Walsh Award – Jai Carmichael for his presentation entitled: Readiness of Community ABI Therapists to Learn and Implement Positive Behaviour Support: A Mixed-Methods Study

    o Luria Award – Kellie Stagg for her presentation entitled: Communication impairment and the working alliance in stroke rehabilitation

    o Travel Award – Owen Lloyd for his presentation entitled: Impaired Self-Awareness after Paediatric Traumatic Brain Injury: Liability or Protective Factor

    • NZRA Awards

    o Best Poster Presentation award - Fiona Kumfor for her poster entitled: Prevalence and neurocognitive basis of delusions in dementia

    o Best Student Presentation award - Jesse Shapiro for her presentation entitled: No diffusion imaging correlate of paediatric post-concussion syndrome: a TBSS study

    • Mindlink Brightwater award was won by Vanessa Rausa - Delivering concussion evidence to the community: A digital solution

    One last highlight of the conference which needs to be mentioned is the amazing artwork of Paul Telling from Visual StoryTeller. Paul worked harder than perhaps anybody else at the conference, continuously designing storyboard posters about each presentation as they were being presented. The art from this work was on display in the venue foyer for reading and enjoying between sessions. A great many of these storyboards went home with presenters and audience members alike and are now no doubt in offices and rehabilitation centres throughout NZ and Australia.

    A big thank you to everyone who made this conference a success. Thank you to all our conference partners: ACC, Laura Fergusson New Zealand, Drake Medox, ABI Rehabillitation, AUT University’s Centre for Person Centred Research, University of Otago’s Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Centre, Cambridge University Press, AUT University, Brain Research New Zealand, the University of New South Wales. Thank you also to the 2019 Conference Organising Committee: Nicola Kayes, Jacinta Douglas, Leanne Togher, Debbie Snell, Felicity Bright, Jonathan Armstrong and Andrew Clarkson as well as the Scientific Committee. Finally, none of this could have been achieved without, of course, the fabulous direction and support of Margaret Eagers. Thank you all for making the ASSBI/NZRA conference 2019 such a fantastic success.

    A/Prof William Levack

    Conference Convenor

    William Levack is an Associate Professor of Rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Teaching & Research Unit, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. Twitter: @DrLevack

  • 21 Aug 2019 12:43 PM | Anonymous

    Anne Hawker, Principal Disability Adviser at Ministry of Social Development spoke as part of a panel discussion at the ASSBI/NZRA Conference in May 2019. Anne was asked to reflect on the future of rehabilitation within New Zealand, with an emphasis on policy, practice and politics. A number of people have indicated that they were keen to access her notes ... so Anne has very kindly allowed us to publish them.

    A couple of definitions:

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) Rehabilitation Strategy defines rehabilitation as...

    a set of interventions designed to optimise functioning and reduce disability in individuals with health conditions in interaction with their environment.

    In Article 26, the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) definition of habilitation and rehabilitation states,

    parties shall take effective and appropriate measures including through peer support, to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life.

    Why the difference? 

    One of the reasons is the significant role played by disabled people and their organisations within the development of the Convention. As article 4.3 of the UNCRPD says

    In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision- making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States parties shall closely consult with and actively involve person with disabilities, including children with disabilities through their representative organisations.

    For disabled people the aim is participation in the community in which they live.

    The need to genuinely dialogue with disabled people

    When the debate was first raised around functional capacity, disabled people pushed against the efforts to make functional gains where they were not adequately involved in the decision-making process. This is why the schema of the WHO International Classification Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is so important to me - it adds that important dimension of participation. It is why I celebrate the call from Dr Alarcos Cieza, who oversees WHO’s work on vision, hearing, rehabilitation and disability, states on page 25 of the WHO strategy,

    rehabilitation, above all, is a person-centred strategy to address an individual needs which are beyond specific organisations, beyond specialisations and beyond specific groups. The spirit of collaboration that we hear in the statements from different stakeholders needs to be maintained in our Call for Action.

    I was interested in the call for action that they talk about and health having the stewardship role in strengthening rehabilitation services.

    Stewardship is now generally recognised as the acceptance or assignment of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others.

    I believe that stewardship is an interesting term, specifically due to:

    • A failure to deliver up to now
    • A paternalistic stance being suggested by this term
    • The term does not engender collaboration and partnership (as Treaty of Waitangi and Reform of the Public Service Act)

    The need to ensure that rehabilitation is included in NZ health strategy & delivery

    It was interesting the 'New Zealand Health Strategy 2016-2026 – Future Direction' does not mention rehabilitation and yet WHO has called for the

    full spectrum of essential, quality health services from health promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

    When I raised questions [about rehabilitation being missed from the NZ Health Strategy,] I’m looked at blankly. As Jan Monsbakken, Past President of Rehabilitation International, said, 

    very few people really know about rehabilitation and it is our obligation to make sure that everyone is aware of the importance.”

    The UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) emphasise the importance of ensuring the needs of disabled people are met.

    Rehabilitation is crucial. It’s a life changer, and it needs to be beefed up all over the world… Habilitation and Rehabilitation is crucial if we really want to make sure that no one is left behind.

    How do we know that no one will be left behind – what information do we capture? How do we measure success - is it when people are able to do their activities of daily living, or when they are able to participate in the community in activities of their choosing?

    Suggestions for the future....

    I agree with the statement 'efficient rehabilitation requires proper planning.' To do this we need health information systems to collect, process and manage relevant information. We need a broader and integrated information approach.

    Change requires more than collaboration.  It involves genuine dialogue with disabled people and their organisations.  Habilitation and rehabilitation have lost respect in the disability sector, which I think is sad. Why? People still remember it being about “fixing people, making them normal.”

    People need to be involved in the decisions that impact on their lives.  This must include thinking about how services address:

    • Choice and control
    • Health literacy  - getting the information that is needed, understanding the information and deciding if it is accurate and enough, and then acting on the information
    • Ageing with a disability

    As NZRA's only life-time member, we are grateful to Anne for these reflections and for the challenges that they present. We want to thank Anne for her ongoing commitment to ensuring that genuine dialogue occurs, and that disabled people are offered services that promote their ability to meaningfully and fully participate in the communities in which they live. 

  • 20 Aug 2019 8:52 AM | Anonymous

    In July 2019, Burwood Academy of Independent Living (BAIL) was delighted to host A/Prof William Levack for the day.

    William provided a workshop for researchers about 'Theory building in qualitative research' and then presented to the wider peer group on 'Making use of Cochrane evidence'. 

    The rehabilitation community is a major stakeholder in the work of Cochrane (formerly the Cochrane Collaboration). One in every 11 reviews and protocols published by Cochrane are on interventions provided by rehabilitation professionals. In 2016, Cochrane Rehabilitation was founded as a Field to act as a bridge between Cochrane and the health-related rehabilitation community worldwide. In part, this work has involved creating resources for rehabilitation providers, policy makers, and service users - ensuring that evidence within the Cochrane Library is relevant and useful to the work and lives of a range of rehabilitation stakeholders.

    William's presentation was designed for health professionals to learn more about how to read and interpret knowledge from systematic reviews, with a particular focus on how to read Cochrane reviews on rehabilitation topics. It was particularly relevant for doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals. 

    Cochrane systematic reviews can be accessed freely from the Ministry of Health website.

    Both sessions were well received.  Your can view the peer group presentation and see the presentation slides HERE.

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