‘NeuroRehabilitation is the need of the hour in the developing world’

The last day of the 10th World Congress for NeuroRehabilitation (WCNR) hosted a very important session on how to make low cost rehabilitation possible in countries like India and Nigeria

'NeuroRehabilitation is the need of the hour in the developing world'

In developing countries, access to NeuroRehabilitation is not very feasible to many. Keeping this in mind, the WCNR held a session chaired by Professor Michael Barnes and Dr Volker Homberg.

The session dealt with topics like overview of low cost rehabilitation in developing countries, virtual reality as a model of low cost rehabilitation, low cost model of rehabilitation in Africa, wheelchair and assistive device considerations for remote settings promoting low cost rehabilitation and low cost model of rehabilitation in Egypt and Arab countries. The session was followed by a question and answer session.

Speaking about the overview of low cost rehabilitation in developing countries, Dr Nirmal Surya, founder of Epilepsy centre, who is a renowned name in the world for NeuroRehabilitation and the president of WCNR said, “Adequate medical rehabilitation is woefully lacking in most developing countries.Financial constraint and lack of expertise puts hold on development.”

Dr Nirmal Surya
Dr Nirmal Surya

Dr Surya added, “Some NeuroRehabilitation services are present in 73.2% of responding countries. In 60.7% of low income countries, no neurological rehabilitation service is available.

“Developing countries don’t have educational programs for rehabilitation professionals. Education-commonly institutional and urban-based is not always relevant to rural reality.”

Speaking at the session, Dr Mayowa Owolabi, professor and director, centre for genomic and precision medicine, blossom centre for NeuroRehabilitation said, “As a nation, we all want to make rehabilitation effective and accessible. Particularly, when we talk about making this available in medium and low income groups, it seems to get difficult.”

He emphasised on rehabilitation model in Africa and added, “Medium and low income countries share at least 80% of burden for NeuroRehabilitation. And they have less than 10% of the resources to combat it. That’s the paradox.”

This means resources available are extremely limited.  For acute management of stroke, the cost spent for brain scan and all that is huge. So when they come for rehabilitation, they’re left with nothing leaving low cost rehabilitation as the only option.

Dr Surya said, “Research should move beyond the simple question of whether rehabilitation is effective and feasible, and examine the therapy factors and patient characteristics that optimise the clinical outcomes of rehabilitation.”

He concluded by saying, “NeuroRehabilitation is the need of the hour in developing world. A systematic approach to deal with situation is warranted. Developing low cost setup at different level will help uniform services. This will require local specialists to get trained, and their integration with national society, who in collaboration with organisations like WFNR will improve the services. So, the future seems to be bright.”