PhD Study Examines Home-based Rehabilitation for People Living with HIV
UKZN Lecturer, Physiotherapist and Biokineticist, Dr Saul Cobbing, was awarded his PhD in Health Sciences for a study titled: “Home-Based Rehabilitation for People Living with HIV in a Resource-Poor Setting in KwaZulu-Natal”.
‘I hope that my research will ultimately translate into practice, with people living with HIV and other chronic diseases in poor communities being provided with wide-ranging rehabilitation options in or near to their homes,’ said Cobbing.
The work investigated the effects of a novel home-based rehabilitation intervention on the quality of life and functional capacity of people living with HIV in a resource-poor setting in KwaZulu-Natal. He employed a task-shifting approach in training lay community care workers to deliver the study intervention.
Cobbing says his research interest stems from his previous work as a Physiotherapist working with people living with HIV and seeing the value that rehabilitation can bring to their lives, improving both their quality of life and physical functioning. His masters work focused on the challenges these people face in accessing hospital-based rehabilitation and his PhD work was a necessary extension of that work. Cobbing, whose parents are both academics, grew up in Grahamstown and Umtata.
After working and studying in South Africa and the United Kingdom, he took up his current position in UKZN’s Department of Physiotherapy in 2010.
Describing his PhD journey, he said: ‘I was very lucky to have excellent supervision and supportive colleagues so I didn’t face many challenges. That said, a PhD takes a lot of work and I did battle to balance my studies and being able to spend enough time with my family.’
While it was a relief to be finished with his PhD, ‘as an academic, one cannot rest on one’s laurels’. He has thus started on post-doctoral work as a Fellow in the College of Health Sciences’ programme: Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership in South Africa (DRILL), through which he hopes to translate his doctoral work into practice and policy.
His family were a great support to him throughout his postgraduate studies. ‘My wife Mandy is a qualified Pharmacist, but her first love is piano - she is graduating with a Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music.
‘I have two young children – Lola (3) and Daniel (6) - who keep us very busy. They already show a significant thirst for books and music, so it looks like these things get passed down the generations,’ he said.
Cobbing says both he and his wife are unapologetic sugar addicts so his favourite dish ‘is probably a baked cheesecake served with some very good freshly-ground coffee’.
His love for sugar is why he has to ensure he does regular exercise. In an invitation to UKZN staff, he concluded saying: ‘At any given lunch-break, please join me and my colleagues trying to practice what we preach, by doing various aerobic and resistance exercises in our Department!’