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Tasmanian Branch meets with Minister for Health

On 29 July, the Tasmanian Branch held a meeting attended by myself; APA CEO Cris Massis; Minister for Health, Information Technology and Innovation for the Tasmanian Government, Michael Ferguson (pictured right, alongside myself); and his chief of staff Peter Poggioli. The following is a summary of topics that were discussed.

Paediatric/early childhood services in the state’s north

There is an excellent Early Childhood Intervention Service (ECIS) provided by the Department of Education in the North West that will be replaced by the National Disability Insurance Scheme Early Childhood, Early Intervention (ECEI) pathway provided by private providers. The risk is that, during this period of transition, skilled staff will leave and the new providers will struggle to provide the quality of service that ECIS has due to skilled staff shortages. There is concern around funding cuts to other paediatric service providers, such as StGiles.

Persistent pain services

A group program called Overcoming Pain and Living well (OPAL) in the North and North West (funded by TAZREACH) and modelled on the work of APA Honoured Members Professor Lorimer Moseley and David Butler, has demonstrated some encouraging results but is limited in its ability to address the more complex end of the persistent pain spectrum. There are also pain services at Royal Hobart Hospital and Launceston General Hospital. This is an ongoing area of need with limited services currently available.

Also discussed
  • the APA's media campaign, which commenced in August with television ads, starting in Hobart
  • advanced scope physiotherapists triaging in ED for musculoskeletal conditions and incorporating pain strategies; this leads to efficiencies in service provision, and, by increasing the number of physios working in this area, we could prevent admissions and re-admissions
  • more community physiotherapists would alleviate the pressure on hospital-based physiotherapy departments, allowing patients to be seen in their homes or community centres
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one of the major causes of hospital admissions, and physiotherapists working in the community can help delay or prevent some of these admissions 
  • physiotherapists working with musculoskeletal patients are often able to either delay joint replacement surgery or allow the patient to cancel these procedures—this helps reduce orthopaedic surgery waiting lists
  • physiotherapy is evidence-based treatment, proven to work, with highly-trained staff; world-first research is currently being done through the University of Tasmania by PhD-candidate physiotherapists
  • the APA Business and Leadership conference to be held in Hobart in 2018.
Catherine Back, APAM, Tasmania Branch President


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   Trialling video games in stroke rehabilitation
  A team of Tasmanian researchers are nearing the end of the first trial in the southern hemisphere of the Jintronix Rehabilitation System, an exercise-based video game for stroke patients.
   StGiles story: adapting to meet the needs of the community
  The polio epidemic of 1937 saw many communities struggling. Significant numbers of deaths were recorded, but it was the ongoing challenges of treatment and rehabilitation of hundreds of children that seemed onerous.
   Taking physio to rural Tasmania
  Nine members of the TAS Branch set up a pop-up clinic at the state’s premier agricultural event, Agfest, to engage with and inform the public on the benefits of physiotherapy.
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