Developing of Wheelchair Training Program for Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Students at the University of Jordan

Upon nomination by the Dean of School of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Jordan; Dr. Nihad Al-Masri (PhD, PT), Dr. Hassan Sarsak (PhD, OT) from the Department of Occupational Therapy at the School of Rehabilitation Sciences was invited as a guest speaker to the round table discussions of the Project “Enhancement of Physiotherapy Programs through Networking in Conflict Affected Countries” which aimed to develop a Wheelchair Skills Training Program (WSTP) for Physical and Occupational Therapy university students at entry level programs. The project was organized by Al Hussein Society Jordan Center for Training & Inclusion in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and hosted at Al Hussein Society on November 21-22, 2017. Dr. Sarsak presented his most recent research study titled: “Developing of Wheelchair Training Program (WTP) for Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Students at the University of Jordan”. The presentation aimed to launch an outreach campaign to raise local awareness about the availability of the WTP for rehabilitation students and professionals from different disciplines who have clinical and/or research interest in wheeled mobility and seating interventions. Dr. Sarsak reported that the WTP was developed in response to the need of more competent wheelchair professionals and to enhance the quality of service delivery to wheelchair users in Jordan. The main objectives of the WTP are: (1) to develop the minimum skills and fundamental knowledge required by rehabilitation practitioners involved in wheelchair service delivery, (2) for students, to develop knowledge and hands-on skill in the process of identifying and providing wheeled mobility and seating interventions to people of all ages and disability type, and (3) to get the WTP integrated into the regular rehabilitation training programs and curricula such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, and orthotics and prosthetics undergraduate programs. Dr. Sarsak added that we are proud to be the first among other universities in Jordan to integrate and provide innovative and more comprehensive educational materials through the WTP to our occupational therapy students as a part of other existing courses workload. At the end of the roundtable discussions, one of the recommendations and outcomes was that the international committee which included members from Jordan, Lebanon, the United States of America, and Canada agreed on adopting the readily available WTP developed by Dr. Sarsak as a good model that could be applied and integrated into universities curricula in the near future in addition to the World Health Organization (WHO) wheelchair service provision training packages, the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP) materials, and other resources. Additionally, the committee members highlighted the importance of carrying out an action plan includes conducting a follow-up scientific conference in January, 2018 and more future campaigns to raise awareness of quality wheelchair training that will be targeting both rehabilitation professionals and students from different disciplines at clinical and educational institutions and universities in Jordan. Finally, Dr. Sarsak shed light on the inclusion of wheelchair users to better understand their needs and stated that “we hope that the results of this project and the WTP study at the University of Jordan will improve the clinical practice for future wheeled mobility and seating interventions and have a positive significant impact on practitioners, suppliers, and wheelchair users in Jordan who are the real motivation behind all of this”.

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School of Rehabilitation Sciences
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