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Less than 1000 physiotherapists are serving 150m Nigerians, says Expert

By Chioma Obinna
Less than 1000 qualified physiotherapists are serving about 150 million Nigerians. Physiotherapists are health practitioners that implore physical modalities in the management of various disease condition such as stroke.

Making this shocking revelations in an exclusive chat with Good Health Weekly shortly after a training session on “Recent Advances in Management of Chronic Stroke for Physicians and Physiotherapists at the College of  Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL) by a USA- based Professour of Physiotherapy, Medical College, Georgia,  the Head of  Department, Physiotherapy of CMUL, Prof. Sunday Akinbo said the worst hit by the deficiency in the profession are chronic stroke patients that are lying hopelessly across hospitals in the country.

Akinbo who further raised alarm on the incidence of stroke, blamed the deficiency on few number of training schools in the country.  “In Nigeria today, we have close to 100 Universities but it is unfortunate that only seven of these universities are offering physiotherapy. You can imagine what seven institution can do to manage over 150 million people and that is why a lot of patients end up with disability because the aspect of rehabilitation is not there because of the few number of physiotherapist in the country”

The Associate Professour disclosed that “Global regulation says one physiotherapy to 500 people but in Nigeria less than 1000 people are currently treating 150 million people. It is a very big deficiency”.

Akinbo who stressed that over 20 new chronic stroke patients are refereed to LUTH weekly for physiotherapy needs said stroke has become another public health problem facing Nigerians.

He explained that the training became necessary to equip practitioners with recent management strategies in order to be in the position to effectively manage patients as they come.

He further regretted that  stroke is now affecting people in their early 30s. “There are high incidence of stroke today. Those days, stroke was probably for people in there late 40s and 60s and above but now we have people in their 30s. This is why we decided to equip ourselves with recent management strategies to be in the position to effectively manage patients when we have them”.

He called on Government to pay more attention to health, particularly, physiotherapy practice as most patients are suffering today in Nigeria due to absence of rehabilitation in their treatment plans.

Corroborating his views, the Professour of Neurology and Former Head of Department Medical College University of Lagos,  Mustapha Danesi who acknowledged a lot of improvement in the practice of physiotherapy, identified shortage of experts that could manage stroke patients as the only limitation in physiotherapy practice in the country.

Danesi said the only solution to the problem was to increase the number of training institutions that offer physiotherapy with a view to increasing the number of physiotherapy that are trained in the country.

The Guest lecturer Dr. Abiodun Akinwuntan, Associate Professour & Director of Driving Simulation Laboratory for Stroke at the College of Allied Health Sciences, Medical College, Georgia, who trained participants on “Current management concept for patients with Chronic Stroke, especially with physical rehabilitation” encouraged practitioners to engage their patients by  making them active participants in their own rehabilitation as well as build the environment in which the patients live into their treatment plan.

Akinwuntan intimated that many of the current concepts have been proven to be effective in helping patients recover faster and such evidences have been from functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which has shown  that not only do dead or non functional cells in the brain pick up their activities again.

“They also have shown that even new areas around those non functional cells have been activated and brought into play to help the patient recover better, which is all the concept of what we call cortical reorganisation” he added.


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