Best practice management of the hemiplegic upper limb: Utilising telehealth to provide education to clinicians in regional Victoria

Mr Thao Nguyen1, Ms Jan Quiney1, Mrs Samantha Plumb1

1Melbourne Health, Parkville, Australia

Abstract:

Aims: To develop, implement and evaluate an upper limb management course for regional clinicians using telehealth videoconferencing technologies.

Methods: A pre-existing upper limb management course  was modified for delivery to regional settings. Regional clinical ‘champions’ were recruited and attended training to deliver the practical components of the course. The course was facilitated via telehealth from Melbourne. Participant feedback was collected following the course and at 3-months follow-up and compared to prior courses run on-site at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Results: The upper limb management course was successfully implemented across three regional sites, involved the training of 12 regional ‘champions’ and 51 regional course participants. Participant feedback showed high level of satisfaction with the telehealth course; however, several scores were lower than those obtained from prior face-to-face courses, related to presentation quality and course facilities. Three month evaluation demonstrated a change in utilisation of hemiplegic upper limb management modalities.

Significance of the findings to rural health:

This study highlights the challenge of delivering clinical education via telehealth. The practical components and skill development were reliant on the ‘champions’ to deliver and limited feedback was  provided by experts towards the participants’ performance. Face-to-face delivery of the course was rated more positively compared to the telehealth version by participants and the expert educators in regards to quality for most of the presentations. These findings provide further opportunity to modify the course, to better meet the needs of regional physiotherapists and occupational therapists. A phase 2 study is currently underway.


Biography:

Thao Nguyen is a Grade 2 Physiotherapist in the Neurosciences Division at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, as part of Melbourne Health in Parkville. He has a Master of Clinical Education and is passionate in the development of clinical skills and practice in undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy education. Thao has worked predominantly with stroke, neurology and neurosurgery patients for over 10 years and has also spent some time in the UK as well.