A Report on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine in Pakistan: Past, Present, and Future Directions

  • Farooq A. Rathore
    Reprint requests to Farooq A. Rathore, MBBS, FCPS, Consultant, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Combined Military Hospital, Panoaqil Cantt 65130, Sindh, Pakistan
    Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Combined Military Hospital, Panoaqil Cantt, Pakistan
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  • Peter W. New
    Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Acute Rehabilitation, Subacute Services, Medical Program, Southern Health, Victoria, Spinal Rehabilitation Unit, Caulfield Hospital, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Amal Iftikhar
    Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA
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      Rathore FA, New PW, Iftikhar A. A report on disability and rehabilitation medicine in Pakistan: past, present, and future directions.
      Disability is a stigma in Pakistan, and cultural norms are a hindrance to the integration of the disabled into the community. Additional barriers to addressing the needs of the disabled include the lack of reliable disability epidemiologic data, inadequate funding and poor health care infrastructure, and workforce shortages. The aim of this report is to present an overview of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) in Pakistan, covering its origins, current status, and future directions. An electronic literature search (1950–2009) was conducted using the Medline, ScienceDirect, Springer Link, CINAHL, and Google Scholar databases. The key words used were “disability,” “persons with disability” (PWDs), “rehabilitation,” “Pakistan,” “developing countries,” “stroke,” “spinal cord injury,” “causes,” “attitudes,” “physiotherapy,” “occupational therapy,” and “speech therapy.” Only publications in English involving physical disability were selected. Statistical data were obtained from the Federal Bureau of Statistics. Interviews with pioneers of rehabilitation medicine in Pakistan, PWDs, and their families were conducted. The origins of PM&R in Pakistan date to the 1960s, but the formal training program began only in 1997. There are only a few rehabilitation departments, and none have all the standard components of a rehabilitation team. The number of practicing rehabilitation consultants is 38. There are an estimated 1000 physical therapists and 150 occupational therapists. There is a need to increase the number of rehabilitation facilities significantly, staff them appropriately, and make them accessible to all who need them, including rural and remote regions. Discrimination should be addressed by education and legislation.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      AFIRM (Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine), CPSP (College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan), DUHS (Dow University of Health Sciences), FFH (Fauji Foundation Hospital), IPMR (Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), JPMC (Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center), NGO (nongovernmental organization), NIRM (National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine), PM&R (physical medicine and rehabilitation), PWD (person with disability)
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