CRS organizes telerehabilitation program for parents, caregivers of visually impaired children

The College of Rehabilitation Sciences (CRS), aiming to promote self-reliance and resilience to its partner community, the Parent Advocates for Visually Impaired Children (PAVIC), recently conducted a community development project titled: “EYE-Rehab: A Telerehabilitation Program for Parents and Caregivers of Children with Visual Impairment.”

The objectives of this project were: to provide telerehabilitation home programs by assessing children with visual impairments (CVI) and training parents and caregivers in carrying out simple and safe instructions; and to educate the parents and caregivers about the condition of their children and to introduce interprofessional approach.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the rehabilitation programs of the children with visual impairments (CVI) as in-person sessions were prohibited due to the community quarantine. This project is based on the concept of telerehabilitation which is recognized by the World Health Organization and global and national professional organizations.

Telerehabilitation is the use of telecommunication technology to deliver and support rehabilitation services and it is the clinical application of consultative, preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services via interactive telecommunication technology. It enhances rehabilitation access and it made rehabilitation possible even during this time of pandemic. The concept of interprofessional collaboration was also applied allowing multiple health professionals from different backgrounds to work together with the children and their parents in a holistic manner.

However, community quarantine restrictions did not hinder CRS from carrying out its mission to respond to the needs of the society as the program was delivered online via Zoom and FB Messenger. The project was able to cater to 21 parents/caregivers of these children. Each CVI was assigned to a team of healthcare professionals that consisted of a rehabilitation doctor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech-language pathologist practitioners. A total of 41 health professionals participated in this project.
The project started with a general orientation held on June 27, 2020. A survey was also conducted among the participating parents and caregivers to assess their internet connectivity, network availability and preferred online platforms.

The online sessions were conducted for an hour each on two Saturdays, July 4 and 11, 2020. The interdisciplinary team approach allowed a more collaborative management and avoided duplication of assessments while providing a more holistic approach for the child’s overall development. The first session was allotted for the assessment procedures where the parent or the caregiver, along with the professionals, set functional objectives for the child. Questions were asked to the parent or caregiver to have an overview of the child’s current performance and concerns. The child was also observed all throughout the session and was asked to perform some tasks to determine strengths and things that need improvement.

Meanwhile, the second session focused more on the home instructions to empower parents and caregivers. Specific instructions and demonstrations were provided to ensure that the parent or caregiver would be able to carry out the intervention even after the program has concluded. With this sustainable rehabilitation program, the College is certain that even if it will take a long while for their participants to receive direct interventions from healthcare professionals, these children will continuously make progress. After all, little progress each day is what it is all about. The program concluded on July 18, 2020 where program evaluation was conducted involving all the participants.

This remote community development via telerehabilitation also faced the challenge of poor or weak internet connectivity affecting the online interaction between the health professionals and parent and child.

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