This picture of a smiling 10-year-old boy with an amputation resulting from the 2008 Sichaun earthquake, taken by physical therapist Annette Wong, is included in the WHO report.
This picture of a smiling 10-year-old boy with an amputation resulting from the 2008 Sichaun earthquake, taken by physical therapist Annette Wong, is included in the WHO report.

WHO report backs physical therapists' role in mobility devices

Physical therapists now have an authoritative tool for advocating their role in the provision of mobility devices, following the publication of a new World Health Organization (WHO) report on the use of mobility devices.

The report, a joint position paper on the provision of mobility devices in less resourced settings, aims to support countries in implementing the parts of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities associated with the provision of mobility devices. It looks at the role of physical therapists and sets out recommendations for individual countries and international stakeholders. It is now available online at www.wcpt.org/node/31113#mobility.

WCPT was one of the organisations contributing to the development of this report, which was produced by WHO jointly with USAID, and which complements the World Report on Disability published by WHO last year. The report addresses actions needed to increase access to mobility devices, and stresses the importance of legislation, funding, appropriate services, properly trained personnel and the assessment of need and unmet need.

“This is an important document for us as a profession,” says Catherine Sykes, WCPT’s Professional Policy Consultant. “It provides a tool for WCPT member organisations to call on governments to develop policies and resources in this field, in particular the need for physical therapists to prescribe mobility devices and train in their use.”

“Movement is what defines the work of physical therapists. Many patients depend on their mobility devices to enable them to participate in education, work and play. If properly prescribed and used, they can enable people to lead fulfiling lives and allow them to contribute to their societies. For many people with disabilities, mobility means independence.”

Featured in the report is a photograph by Hong Kong-based physical therapist Annette Wong, which won a WCPT photo competition in 2008. The picture, named “A boy named Summer”, portrays a smiling 10-year-old boy with an amputation as a result of the 2008 Sichaun earthquake.

“We will be very interested to know what impact the report has had at governmental level," says Catherine Sykes. "WHO will be monitoring progress to see how countries have responded to the report, as well as the recommendations of the World Report on Disability.”