PhD Study Dissects Effectiveness of Ecologically Valid Telerehabilitation System
A UKZN study identified the need for treating a new intervention as unique, developing in relation to a complex and potentially unique set of ecological conditions.
Dr Sona Narayanan Ayanikalath, who hails from India, identified the need for using a contextually guided framework when developing telerehabilitation (TR) which can improve its effectiveness.
Supervised by Professor Mershen Pillay, the study titled: Investigation of the Effectiveness of an Ecologically Valid Telerehabilitation System for the Assessment and Primary Management of Neurogenic Dysphagia in a Resource Constrained Country, the study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of an ecologically valid telerehabilitation system for the assessment and primary management of neurogenic dysphagia in India.
‘Telerehabilitation for dysphagia intervention is mostly used and researched on in the economically developed countries,’ said Ayanikalath. ‘No studies have been reported in resource constrained countries. Hence, its ecological validity and effectiveness were investigated. The results of this study are an inspiration for future large-scale research in any resource constrained countries,’ she said.
Although the study population used were patients with dysphagia, the results obtained can be applicable to any field. ‘The current study can be generalised to the use of TR for any kind of speech and language intervention and possibly other rehabilitation disciplines. The factors identified could play a role in the effectiveness of TR when providing assessment and/or management services to any kind of disability in a real-life setting in a resource constrained country,’ said Ayanikalath.
Ayanikalath intends to conduct further research in the field of Telerehabilitation especially in resource constrained countries and is also interested in pursuing a teaching profession.
Ayanikalath graduated in 2004 with MSc Speech and Hearing. She has been working in Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (Abu Dhabi) since 2008 and is currently the Supervisor of Speech Language Pathology in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal