Internet and teleconferencing help standardising Motor Disability Assessment training

Ancona 24 January 2000Globally, a substantial part of the elderly and disabled population is suffering from slightly or more severely disturbed motion behaviour. To aid these people in keeping their independence as long as possible, specific skills and treatment are required. European professionals, who are specialised in physiatry, bio-engineering, and physical therapy are currently addressed in a project, funded by the European Commission, which aims to deliver a multi-disciplinary training, based on interactive multimedia tools. The programme is targeted at helping specialists to assess motor disability and disseminate good practice among their colleagues, working at remote sites.


This Motor Disability Assessment Specialists' Training, referred to as MODA SPECTRA, will be set up by the Universities of Dublin, Strathclyde, Montpellier, and Ancona, in collaboration with the Dutch Roessingh Centre for Rehabilitation. Since the system will involve an open and distant learning environment, the training tools have to be made accessible via the Internet with use of teleconferencing features, in addition to CD-ROM, videotape, and printed documents. As such, the project team hopes to improve the lack of homogeneous skills among the professionals in Motor Disability Assessment (MDA), and to introduce a standardised education. Up till now, significant differences occur among European countries and even within each country.

Another issue which has to be taken into account constitutes the alarming shortages of rehabilitation personnel, whereas the demand for this type of services gradually increases. This is where the remote support comes in for these institutions which will remain understaffed in the future, in order to supervise the operations performed locally and to process the results from a distance. The trainees will be guided by means of suitable tutoring pathways and schedules and receive on-line evaluation during the learning period. The project partners equally plan to implement multimedia databases of context-based experiences provided by recognised practitioners.

The MDA course materials will be produced by specialised industrial parties in close co-operation with the academic partners. The resulting course will be comprised of ten modules. Each package will involve 20 hours of direct exposure to didactic activities for every student. If the trainee is successful in a module, he will be offered a credit. Ten credits will allow students to be considered for a European award, that will be attained after the preparation of an individual dissertation. In this way, the MODA SPECTRA team aims at improving the access to rehabilitation assessment and create more flexibility and working options for MDA professionals.

Out of the ten modules taught, seven modules are common. Three of them include clinical evaluation for MDA and related arguments; two modules are dealing with methods and techniques for MDA and related arguments; and two modules address the subject of telematics for MDA. The remaining three modules will be differentiated according to the background of the student. As a result, European MDA professionals will be provided with an excellent tool to upgrade their skills in a lifelong educational context. You can find out more on distant learning and training for medical professionals, in this very issue's article Educational multimedia technology to optimise training in anaesthesiology and critical care.

Leslie Versweyveld

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