Kolling Institute researchers instrumental in Australian first guidelines

It has taken three years and many hours of careful work, but two researchers from the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research have developed the first clinical practice guidelines for physiotherapists to inform the care of people with life-changing spinal cord injuries.

Physiotherapy is a key part of rehabilitation for people with a spinal cord injury, but until now, there has been no nationally consistent advice based on the best available evidence.

The guidelines were driven by Professor Lisa Harvey and A/Professor Joanne Glinsky, who worked with a team of physiotherapists, researchers, and people with a spinal cord injury across Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Harvey said the recommendations provide up-to-date information on the most effective physiotherapy management.

“Importantly, they are based on a rigorous evaluation of the available evidence, taking into account the opinions of clinical experts and people with a spinal cord injury,” she said.

“We started the process by identifying over 100 clinical questions of importance to physiotherapists and those living with an injury, and each question was ultimately answered by way of an evidenced-based recommendation or a consensus statement.”

A/Professor Glinsky said we followed a very detailed and rigorous process with many meetings, discussions and reviews of the evidence.

“It is this process that should give people confidence in the recommendations of the guidelines,” she said.

Professor Harvey added that the work was only possible with the initial financial support from icare in NSW, and the support from organisations throughout Australia including the Transport Accident Commission, the National Insurance Scheme Queensland and the Lifetime Support Authority.

“Their support for this important piece of work was critical to our success. We are tremendously grateful they shared our vision to create these first Australian recommendations.”

The guidelines can be viewed at www.SCIPTguide.org