India: ‘NeuroRehabilitation is still in nascent stage’

With all eyes set for the global meeting of the World Federation of NeuroRehabilitation in Powai, Mumbai, Dr Abhishek Srivastava, Joint Organising Secretary of the 10th World Congress organised by World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation (WFNR) says, the whole concept of this four daylong conference is to discuss how can we rehabilitate people with brain injuries, stroke, Parkinson disease, about the recent advances and how can we bring medical community and rehab community together and bridge the gap


World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation (WFNR) is all set to host its 10th World Congress in India from 7th-10th February. This is the first time that the conference is being held in South East Asia and it is a big step for neurological rehab experts.

Dr Srivastava said the theme of the conference is called “Neuro Technology to Community Care. “Science is advancing and technology is changing very fast. The focus of the conference is to bridge the gap between various treatment phases right from acute hospital care, technology usage, to discharge, day care and then to community and home care program,” he explained.

Dr Srivastava, who specialises in Neurological Rehabilitation and is Director of Centre for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, said the conference will have scientific body of experts of multidisciplinary nature consisting of neurologist, neuro- rehab physicians, neurosurgeon, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech language therapist, neuropsychologist, nurses and everyone involved in providing neuro rehabilitation services. “This conference will have day 1 pre-conference workshop day that will have 18 workshops for skill enhancement including pain management by ultrasound, music therapy, on autism, Parkinson disease etc,” he said.

Dr Srivastava further said, in the conference there will be 18 symposiums. “Each symposium will have three speakers and dedicated topics like stroke, brain injuries, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and their rehabilitation aspects. There are 5-6 parallel tracks every day. There will be three tracks of main symposium. 2 parallel tracks that will include Indian rehab community called IFNR track to talk about Indian Rehab perspective. The other will be developing world forum track where all countries from developing world will present and discuss problems unique to them, he explained.

For the first time, the WFNR will have public forums. “There will be three forums in a day on different diagnosis and diseases. In the public forums there will be special chairperson, international and Indian speakers, celebrity brand ambassadors and public that includes patients and caregivers,” said Dr Srivastava.

 Dr Abhishek Srivastava
Dr Abhishek Srivastava

He further explained that though the conference is for medical professionals, idea of having public forum was to spread awareness on neuro rehab. “People don’t know what developments are happening in the medical rehabilitation. People with neurological problems have long term disability. Patient support groups for different neurological diseases will be there at the conference,” said Dr Srivastava.

Talking about NeuroRehabilitation in India, Dr Srivastava said it is still in nascent stage.

“In India, there are overall 300 medical colleges, but only 30 of them have department of rehabilitation medicine. We lack infrastructure, manpower for NeuroRehabilitation. India has 600 rehab medicine physicians while in the US it is 15000,” he said.

Dr Srivastava explained, one of the ideas behind the conference is reach out to government, people and make them aware the need of more NeuroRehabilitation centres in the country.

“Research shows 90% of the people with neurological problems need rehab. The initial part is medical or surgical management. But people remain with impairments after initial treatment and there are 8-9 types of impairments including memory, vision, hearing, speech language, paralysis, lack of urine or motion control etc. This leads to disability. It causes limited activity participation in community. Only treatment for these impairments is rehab,” said Dr Srivastava.

He said, the four day conference revolves around the fact that NeuroRehabilitation is the new specialty in medicine and integral part of neurology disease medical management. “We need to focus on neuro rehab to prevent disability,” concluded Dr Srivastava.