In this new blog series, Lara shares her experience as an oversea-trained physiotherapist working in the UK. From guidance on the HCPC registration process to discussion around UK and international physio news, she hopes to provide help to foreign physios looking to work in the UK - and to connect with those of you who already are!
If you've been on social media this month, you've probably heard about #WorldPrematurityDay2017. Every 17th of November World Prematurity Day aims to raise awareness and support for premature babies and the consequences of prematurity. Organisations around the world not only work their hardest to keep these babies alive and fit, but also support their parents and relatives in the process, as often premature babies come with ‘HANDLE WITH EXTRACARE’ instructions! A lot of them develop secondary issues due to being born preterm, including developmental delay, cardiac or lung problems among many others.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1 in 10 babies are born too early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). In high-income countries, the majority of preterm babies survive thanks to the use of well-developed and cost-effective multidisciplinary work: this includes treatment for the babies and their mothers, life support machines and day-to-day care in the early stages and as required in the future. However, in low-income countries these babies struggle to make it through as there is not sufficient support, resources or even education around their care.
November turns purple in memory of all those babies who came to our world a bit too soon, and it's a great opportunity to reflect as health professionals and potential parents, siblings, relatives etc on prematurity. What are we doing around the world to support these babies? Take a look:
*In Mexico they highlight the importance of visual assessment and monitoring in preterm babies as it is the first cause of blindness in children.
How about physiotherapists? What can we do to help?
The role of physiotherapy is becoming more and more recognised in the support of premature babies. In many countries physiotherapists intervene at the very early stages, helping with respiratory care for babies as well as post-partum care for mothers. Physiotherapy is widely-used during the development stages: it has been shown in studies, and it's part of the paediatric guidelines in the UK, that physiotherapy intervention to aid with motor development is a high priority in preterm babies. The sooner we get involved the better!
There is still conflicting evidence on the type of physiotherapy care that we should provide; however everyday more and more paediatric physiotherapists undertake research in this field. One of them comes from where I qualified as a physiotherapist: my paediatric physiotherapy lecturer, María José Álvarez, was doing her PhD in the neonatal unit of the Hospital of León (North West Spain). In her study, she found that massage therapy and joint mobilisation delivered by the parents and supervised by the physiotherapist improve growth and development comparing to those who did not receive the same therapy (you can read her article here). Other studies using similar techniques have found that these also help with gastric and cardiac functions as well as insulin production.
As I was scrolling through my twitter feed, seeing all those news about World Prematurity Day and how we can unify and work together as health professionals from all around the world to better the care of premature babies, I truly felt inspired and I think using these platforms to share our knowledge, ideas and support is more important than ever.
November 17th might have passed already, but for the whole of November my heart has turned purple, how about yours?
About the author
Lara is a Spanish physiotherapist who has been working in the UK for the past 3 years. Having worked as a rotational physiotherapist over here, she's now got experience in a wide range of specialities and works as a band 6 physiotherapist. However, it hasn't always been easy finding her way and adjusting to the UK system. She's since been sharing her experience and helping other foreign-trained physios to come and settle here; firstly through her own blog, and now as part of the QP team!