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New trends in helping people fully recover

Media release – December 5, 2006

New trends in helping people fully recover to be heard at major New Zealand rehabilitation conference

Improving life for people with injury and illness is the focus of an international rehabilitation conference in Rotorua in February.

Organiser Duncan Reid said the conference will cover a range of topics related to improving access and outcomes of those who have suffered a range of physical and neurological disorders, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

World experts will outline overseas trends, ACC staff will promote their new rehabilitation strategy and those who have experienced severe injuries will also speak out.

Neuro-imaging, robotics , virtual reality and the role of sport and exercise are key issues for debate among 300 delegates expected at Rotorua on February 16-18.

This conference marks the formation of a new organisation - the National Rehabilitation Research Institute (NIRR). This collaboration of New Zealand Rehabilitation researchers aims to promote excellence in rehabilitation research.

Founding members of the NIRR include AUT University, the Medical Research Institute of NZ, the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Massey University with growing involvement and support of other partners.

The conference (run this year in partnership with the annual conference of the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association) will showcase the cutting edge of new developments in rehabilitation and importantly - encourage future collaborative research in rehabilitation.

With an ageing population and people surviving what until relatively recently would have been fatal neurological injuries, rehabilitation is an increasingly important part of health and social provision, Reid said.

``Rehabilitation has advanced significantly over recent years. New technologies are being applied including advanced neuro-imaging, robotics and virtual reality.

``Despite such progress, rehabilitation remains complex – both for the professionals who work in it either clinically or in research as well as for the clients who use their services.’’

Key speakers include New Zealanders Kathryn McPherson, Professor of Rehabilitation at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, Professor David Baxter, Dean of Physiotherapy at the University of Otago and Grant Sharman a paraplegic and former member of the Olympic gold medal Wheel Blacks team and current coach.

International speakers include Dr Lynne Turner Stokes, the Herbert Dunhill chair of rehabilitation at King’s College in London, Professor Michael Sullivan from McGill University, Canada.

A panel of experts will engage in a two day think tank before the conference exploring how to promote a more equitable and person centred approach to services for New Zealanders needing rehabilitation.

Other topics to be covered include: the use of everyday technology - such as mobile phones - to help those with brain injuries, the barriers experienced by Maori during stroke recovery, and the current climate of pain management in New Zealand.


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