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Reading: Training of Mid-Level Rehabilitation Workers for Community-Based Rehabilitation Programmes


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Original Research Articles

Training of Mid-Level Rehabilitation Workers for Community-Based Rehabilitation Programmes


Ritu Ghosh ,

Mobility India, Rehabilitation Research and Training Centre, IN
About Ritu
Ritu Ghosh, Prosthetist and Orthotist (P&O), holds a Master Degree in Business Administration in Health Care Services. She works as Academics Director at Mobility India, Rehabilitation Research and Training Centre, Bengaluru; and has over 24 years’ of experience in the disability field. She is a member of the Board of Studies (Allied Health Sciences) at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnataka and a member of the P&O expert committee of the Rehabilitation Council of India, New Delhi. She is also the founding Board Member of International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP) and a member of the Wheelchair Advisory Group of the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO).
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Vennila Palanivelu,

Senior Manager, Therapy Training, Mobility India, Bangalore, India, IN
About Vennila
Vennila Palanivelu completed her Masters in Physiotherapy from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Allied Health Sciences, Bengaluru, India. She has been working as a Physiotherapist for the past 20 years and is currently the Senior Manager – Therapy Training at Mobility India where she is involved in planning and implementing the long-term therapy courses; as well as organising and conducting continuous development programs for Mobility India. She is an ISWP Certified Trainer from USA for WHO - Wheelchair Service Training Packages (WSTP). She is also the Member of External Review Group (ERG) for developing WHO Standards for Wheelchairs.
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Emma Tebbutt,

Mobility India, Bangalore, India, IN
About Emma
Emma worked for Mobility India between 2006 and 2015, developing training materials for their mid-level rehabilitation worker programmes and supporting the evaluation of graduates. Emma joined the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 as part of the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) team. Her role at WHO includes leading the development of Training in Assistive Products (TAP); an online training package to support strengthening of community-level provision of simple assistive devices.
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Sunil Deepak

Independent Consultant, Advisor AIFO and ex-head of North-East Regional Office of Mobility India, IT
About Sunil
Sunil Deepak has worked with AIFO, an international NGO based in Italy, for more than 30 years and was involved in programs dealing with leprosy, primary health care and CBR, specifically in evaluations, training and research. He has collaborated with different UN organisations, especially with the Disability & Rehabilitation team of WHO. For a couple of years he led the north-east office of Mobility India. In recent years, his work has focused on emancipatory disability research and assistive technology.
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Purpose: There is a lack of trained rehabilitation professionals, especially in the small towns and rural areas of low- and middle-income countries. In India, a new cadre of mid-level rehabilitation workers, the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistants (RTAs), are being trained by Mobility India, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). This paper explores their training and experience after the training.

Method: The paper has collected information from three different initiatives connected with the trained RTAs: An impact assessment of their training; interviews with RTAs during an evaluation; and a survey of 188 RTAs trained between 2002 and 2019.

Results: Analysis of the information shows that RTAs have good skills to provide rehabilitation interventions in the field and are appreciated by clients and other stakeholders. Most of the RTAs work for NGOs in CBR programmes, and in private hospitals and clinics. There is no role for them in government services in most countries. The number of trained RTAs remains small in spite of the large needs. This may be due to lack of an accreditation system for RTAs and the low priority given to rehabilitation services in general.

Conclusions: The analysis provides useful information to strengthen the RTA training courses. Training RTAs to provide rehabilitation services in smaller towns and rural areas of low- and middle-income countries can have a good impact through CBR programmes. However, this impact remains circumscribed to small areas where NGOs are active. Changes are needed in the health systems for the inclusion of mid-level rehabilitation workers in primary health care services.

How to Cite: Ghosh, R., Palanivelu, V., Tebbutt, E. and Deepak, S., 2021. Training of Mid-Level Rehabilitation Workers for Community-Based Rehabilitation Programmes. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 31(4), pp.191–216. DOI:
Published on 23 Feb 2021.


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