Launceston researcher Ianthe Boden awarded PEDro Prize at World Confederation of Physical Therapy Congress

30 Aug 2019

Story and Image courtesy of The Examiner Newspaper – Health Reporter, Jessica Willard


Ms Boden recently accepted the PEDro’ prize for best trial at the World Confederation of Physical Therapy Congress in Geneva, Switzerland.

Funded by the Clifford Craig Foundation, the world-first clinical trial explored how physiotherapy could be used to improve patient recovery after emergency abdominal surgery.

By providing patients with twice as much rehabilitation in the first week after surgery, Ms Boden said the treatment had profoundly positive impacts.

“This is a severe operation, with severe consequences if they live through it,” she said.

“There is a one in 10 likelihood of dying within 30 days of surgery. One if five, if they survive, have to go to rehabilitation and they are often nowhere near back to normal within a year.

“We wanted to find out if giving patients extra physiotherapy immediately after surgery … would have any benefit in how well they recover. From my point of view, that is super important.”

The trial was conducted over three years from 2015 and involved 288 patients from the Launceston General Hospital, Victoria’s Northeast Health Wangaratta and Brisbane’ s Princess Alexandra Hospital.

The study found that patients who received extra physiotherapy were half as likely to develop pneumonia after surgery, were in hospital for three days less, and were half as likely to require time in a formal rehabilitation ward.

Ms Boden said patients not only left hospital sooner, but those who did felt fitter and stronger compared to those who didn’t get the extra treatment.

“A surgeon might save someone’s life, but it’s a physiotherapist who helps that person get back to the life they want,” she said.

“At three months after surgery, most of these patients were back to normal life.”

Ms Boden presented her findings in Geneva, but said it was an absolute shock when the trial was named the best in the world for physical therapy.

“I don’t think there have been any similar awards provided to a Tasmanian researcher,” she said.

“I never thought I would get this type of recognition.

“But just because we are 300 kilometres south of Melbourne, doesn’t mean our IQ is any less.

“We have an amazing hospital here in the Launceston General. It is very well supported through research.”

Clifford Craig Foundation chief executive Peter Milne said Ms Boden’s research would vastly improve the post-operative care benefits for patients at the LGH.

“This highly effective treatment developed through funding from Clifford Craig will save the health system around half a million dollars a year in overall hospital costs, and that ultimately benefits the entire community,” he said.