2023 has been another dynamic year for ADAPT, to say the least!  Here is a speedy summary through the year and some exciting opportunities into 2024 for you… 

Webinars:  2023 has been another year of inspiring webinars, learning more about global rehabilitation.  Thank you to all the ADAPT members who have joined us, sharing your thought-provoking questions and useful resources. Jess Simms hosted excellent speakers from a breadth of geographical and clinical backgrounds.  This included Ashan discussing his research on developing physio interventions for community-reintegrated veterans with lower limb amputation in Sri Lanka, Celine sharing her HEE fellowship experience in Zambia and of course Kate’s research on her experiences of lower limb prosthesis users in Kenya. We also heard reflections from a World Physiotherapy project in Sierra Leonne and their members experiences of their yearly congress.  If you would like to make any suggestions for webinars, whether it is speakers or topics, please let Jess know.

Journal Club: The journal club has continued organically into 2023, where Amy Souster and Jess Simms have developed a really useful document for beginners, in how to critically read your first article.  We can also offer you CPD certificates for attending. Please note that these clubs are for all physios curious about the world of Global Health (and not just for researchers).  Whether you are new to research, new to global health or simply interested to know how a journal club works, we can support you on this journey.   If you have a specific article or are interested in us finding an article to discuss from a specific clinical area, please get in touch with Amy.

Our Global Rehabilitation Joint Study Day:  ADAPT joined forces with OT Frontiers and CTI groups to plan, develop and deliver a free virtual international joint study day in September. The aim was to look at Equality, Diversity and Inclusion across a global network with a global focus. We had 5 incredible speakers:

Professor Nora Groce – Director of the International Disability Research Centre, University College London, United Kingdom.

Zelelam Demeke – University of Gondar, Ethiopia (physiotherapist and occupational therapist).

Professor Harsha Kathard – University of Cape Town, South Africa (speech and language therapist).

Dr Mershen Pillay – Massey University, New Zealand (speech and language therapist).

Sarah N Matovu – consultant occupational therapist, Uganda.

Amy Souster says “We included workshops based on the presentations by our guest speakers around the following themesDecolonising the curriculum; Participant-led research; Lived experience of practice of allied health professionals.  There were over 150 attendees from all 3 clinical backgrounds with 28% (42) of ticket holders stated working in low and middle-income countries. 72% (108) of ticket holders stated working in upper income countries. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.”  
You can see more about it here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/joint-study-day-adapt-communication-therapy-international-ot-frontiers-tickets-640181850147

ADAPT Conference: Like last year, we were oversubscribed with 500+ physios, registered from across 99 countries.  Our theme for this year was ‘Teaching approaches for physios in LMIC’ which included world class speakers from Nepalese rural community rehabilitation through to Artificial Intelligence and lessons learnt in Sierra Leone through to indigenous leadership for Pacific decent physio services.  You can see the full agenda on the events page and the conference recording will be on the members page of the ADAPT website.  The breadth and depth of knowledge shared was exemplary.  Discussions leading to suggestions at the conference facilitated the development of a highly useful resource list for physios teaching in LMICs.  This includes links from speakers, members and the conference’s global attendees.  The resource list is being published in the members area of the website.  The feedback from the conference has been extremely positive and I (Fiona Lindsay) sincerely thank the whole ADAPT committee for their exceptional team-work in providing this unique opportunity, to attend free of charge and make it accessible to all our members and international colleagues.

World Physio Congress: A highlight of the year for ADAPT was 5 members (Alice Inman, Kate Mattick, Anna Vine, Elizabeth Anderson and Alberta Rockson) attending and presenting on various topics at the World Physiotherapy conference in Dubai.   Alice was representing ADAPT in a symposium of “Can evidence from HMIC be used for LMIC?” which prompted a great discussion back home for ADAPT members.  Kate Mattick also represented ADAPT by presenting a poster encouraging physios into global health.  Alice says “We also met many others there who had either attended ADAPTs online meetings or spoke of ADAPTs great work”.

International ConflictYou will likely have seen ADAPTS statement in October, responding to conflicts and calling for peace (https://adaptcsp.co.uk/2023/10/30/statement/ ).  In November ADAPT hosted an online shwartz round, where ADAPT members had the opportunity to listen and support each other in a safe environment.  ADAPT also suggested a minutes silence while offline during the ADAPT conference lunchtime, pausing to think about our colleagues working in incredibly difficult contexts.  Fiona offered a New Scientist article published this year ‘Survival of the kindest’, which referred to the fact that Homo Sapiens evolved due to kindness towards their neighboring communities.   We suggested that whichever conflict our colleagues are in, if their true intention is of peace and kindness to heal, decrease pain and increase function despite such appalling conditions around them, then we applaud and stand by them.  We also took the opportunity to suggest that 99 countries coming together for the ADAPT conference demonstrated our strong global rehabilitative interconnectedness.  This will continue to grow and strengthen alongside ADAPT. Further to this, the committee have collaboratively written to the CSP requesting that they:

1. Make a statement for immediate ceasefire and the safe flow of and access to basic humanitartian resources through the provision of a protected humanitarian corridor.
2. Recognise and advocate the importance of global health within the CSP strategy and to make global health a core part of CSP activity.
3. Make statements in the future as humanitarian and natural disasters occur.
4. Collaborate with ADAPT and support physios working in these enviromnents.
5. Inform ADAPT on how they will proceed.

Diversity:  ADAPT appointed a diversity officer, Celine De-Silva, who has initiated conversations with wider professional networks, included themes of equality, diversity and inclusivity into the joint study day and have engaged in processes with the CSP to allow internationally recruited physiotherapists to get access to information and support via ADAPT. We have started research into the best practices around promoting equality and diversity within the network and aim to ensure we serve and represent our members in the same way.  

Sri Lanka Collaboration: A new collaboration with Sri Lanka has been ignited through ATOCP (association of trauma and orthopaedic chartered physiotherapy) who have initiated a fellowship to Sri Lanka and have asked the expertise of ADAPT to support and engage, ensuring the activities are appropriate and sustainable by providing past lived experiences and networking abilities.  We are very excited about this collaboration, especially as we have an ADAPT committee member, Celine living in Sri Lanka, which will significantly help this collaboration.

Website: Luke Stevens has been busy behind the scenes, updating the ADAPT website to bring you the latest news.  Please keep your eye on the website for all the updates, collaborative resources, past webinars, conference recordings and so much more. www.adaptcsp.co.uk
Committee Members’ Experience: Mica Russell writes “In December 2022, ADAPT advertised an opportunity to work with World Physiotherapy in Sierra Leone. I sent in my CV and, alongside two other ADAPT members, I was selected by World Physiotherapy as a Trauma Specialist to deliver a hands-on, clinical skills bootcamp to qualified Physiotherapists and students Physiotherapists in Sierra Leone in January 2023.  The BSc Physiotherapy programme started in 2017 to give a boost to the profession of Physiotherapists in Sierra Leone. However, since the programme is newly developed and teaching capacity and experience is limited, there was a need to further develop the teaching skills of the academic staff and clinical instructors to improve the quality of the programme. World Physiotherapy carried a visit and established that the clinical education component of the programme in Masanga was weak as students have very little exposure to clinical practice. The bootcamp programme included lectures and practical sessions, giving teachers and students exposure to physiotherapy education and practice. I worked with different cultures, influenced students and staff, and adapted my teaching techniques to their differing learning needs. This foundation knowledge and understanding of students, their needs and placement types, has enabled me to provide high-quality learning experiences in my NHS role as a Physiotherapist.

Improving Global Health fellowship experience by Mica Russell“I enrolled on the 6 month Improving Global Health fellowship, delivered by NHS England, to work as a Quality Improvement Fellow to work on a project to reduce malnutrition mortality in infants in a rural hospital in Lesotho, Africa. 

With the support of my leadership mentor and my partnership link lead, I have completed the NHS Project and Change management modules and the Edward Jenner Leadership course. I have been developing my Project Management and Leadership skills whilst identifying problems, and then planning, implementing, and reviewing PDSA cycles to bring about change. The project has seen a reduction in mortality rate of children with malnutrition, through interventions; improving doctors initial admission forms, delivering educational sessions to the local community in the hospital and villages, and creating induction programmes for new starters.

This fellowship has also improved my cultural competence through working in partnership with overseas colleagues and I’m grateful for the opportunity NHS England have given me to be involved in this global health work.”

Grant:  A wee reminder that ADAPT have a grant which you can apply for online.  The T&Cs and application form are on the members section of the website. The aim is to support members with projects in LMICs.  Come on – have a go!

CSP Update, written by Jessie Robinson.  ADAPT committee members (Mica Russle, Abi Clark and I) attended the CSP Annual Representatives Conference (ARC) networking and sharing information about ADAPT. Following consultation with our membership, we submitted a discussion item to the ARC committee. This was accepted and ADAPT led one of three discussion workshops at the conference titled ‘Enabling Global Health secondments in the NHS’. It was well attended and provided some interesting insights into the barriers and challenges faced by both physiotherapists and their line managers. Although this wasn’t a motion, we felt it was still important to take this discussion further with the CSP council.

Off the back of the ARC discussion workshop, there are two main work streams that ADAPT are in the early stages of developing in collaboration with the CSP. The first, is looking at developing a Global Health engagement guideline for NHS managers to utilize for facilitating global health secondments. In the new year we will start distributing further information and a questionnaire to understand NHS managers perceptions of global health engagement and the challenges both managers and physiotherapists face. Please keep your eyes peeled! We will share updates as they continue to progress in the new year and will require your valuable input from the ADAPT membership.

Secondly, we are in the early stages of exploring the possibilities of a UK physiotherapy career pathway in global health. The ADAPT comitteee and subgroup are in the process of identifying what this might look like and will continue to develop this at our strategy day in the nre year. If you are interested in any of this work or would like to be involved, please contact Jessie Robinson. 

In addition to ARC, we have had a total of eight ADAPT member who attended the CSP Annual Conferences  across England, Wales and Scotland , six of these were funded by ADAPT. One of our committee members, Amy Souster presented a poster at the England conference titled “Service evaluation of an MDT care home project initiative – qualitative outcomes’. Congratulations to everyone involved. 

Book recommendation…  ADAPTs ex-chair and vice chair, Leslie Dawson has published a book available on Amazon:   How Far Is It To Bethlehem?: Memories & Stories: Amazon.co.uk: Dawson, Lesley: 9798395474995: Books

Hello Students!: I am Rio, currently studying MsC pre-reg physiotherapy in Edinburgh. A warm welcome to all students from myself and the team! I am currently the student rep for ADAPT, hoping to raise awareness and further inform student communities about physiotherapy within global health. In November I attended the CSP annual conference representing ADAPTin Glasgow, finding a multitude of inspiration and discussions with physiotherapists who are activists in supporting a positive influence within the profession.

Opportunities for YOU!: ADAPT now has more members, followers and global interconnectedness than ever.  Jo Gibbs has been at the end of every email supporting members (and non-members) with advice. ADAPTs growth has resulted in us having more roles available and we warmly encourage you to come and get involved within the committee.  The jobs are enjoyable and we are a very welcoming, proactive and upbeat group who would love to hear from you.  You can get involved in any areas, such as events, research, membership or technology and you can volunteer even for just a few hours to help us.  Please do get in touch.

New roles!The ADAPT committee are opening up a new International Relations Officer role, driven by Luke Stevens.  This aims to ensure we effectively collaborate with international organisations, governing bodies, schools, colleges of standards, governance eg World Physio, WHO, UK-EMT, FRRHH and more.  We look forward to bringing you more information about these collaborations in 2024.

Kate Mattick will be heading up the new events team and we have some exciting ideas coming for 2024.
Fiona Lindsay will be starting up a biannual online meet up for physios doing or have done PhDs in global health – more information will come in 2024.  In the meantime, if this is of interest to you, please let Fiona know.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Alice Inman, who has chaired ADAPT for four years, through COVID, conflicts and more.  Alice has brought her wealth of experience and compassion to ADAPT members through this time and helped shape ADAPT into the profound network that it is today.  Alice will be stepping back from chair and taking up the treasurer post as well as working with Amy in the research post.
Fiona will continue to Chair alongside Jo Gibbs, Kate Mattick and Jessie Robinson as vice-chairs, all working closely together with the ADAPT committee members. 

As you can imagine, the ADAPT committee also includes team members working hard behind the scenes not mentioned yet, this includes Mica, (whose attention to detail is incredible – even from the other side of the world), Rio, Abi, Ella and Amara.

AGM: The ADAPT AGM will be on Wednesday 10th January at 8pm where the above roles will be voted in.  We welcome all ADAPT members to this so that you can share ideas and plans for 2024.  A zoom link will be sent in the week beginning 8th January.

Strategy Day:  The ADAPT committee will be gathering together in March, to discuss how to keep ADAPTS momentum driving forwards to bring our members the very best in global health.

In this time of global challenges, we heartily thank you for your membership and support.  Our collaborative drive to advocate for equity and our passion to get vital rehabilitation into every corner of the world will continue into 2024 as strong as ever, thanks to the ADAPT membership.  

The ADAPT committee wish everyone a very happy and safe Christmas and joyful new year.  We look forward to seeing you in 2024.

‘How Far Is It To Bethlehem?

Source: Sussex Express

Lesley is well known in the physiotherapy world and amongst the global health and humanitarian community. She spent a significant amount of time and contributed greatly to the ADAPT team. Lesley has lived and worked in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 1988 and 1999. She headed up the team that developed and ran degree programmes in physiotherapy and occupational therapy at Bethlehem University and a short spell in Gaza at the UNRWA College of Nursing. As a result of these projects and an interest in Biblical sites, she travelled widely in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“Some of the stories in this book are personal, some are about other people I met,” said Lesley, “others are stories I heard and some are more than one story put together. All the stories are based on my time working and living in the Middle East – some are about situations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and others are based in Israel. I leave the reader to decide which stories are which. Stories represent the complexities of life for all who live there and pose questions but provide no answers. A Chinese proverb says “May you live in interesting times” we certainly did.” – Lesley Dawson

The book includes 76 stories and memories all produced as set pieces of Bourne to Write workshop homework and timed exercises, so the book grew without Lesley noticing it. Now it’s a fascinating and often humorous insight into life and education in a highly complex, sensitive part of the world. The book also features 44 of Lesley’s photographs.

The proceeds are being donated to an organization working with people with disability, Action around Bethlehem Children with Disability (ABCD).

Buy the Book

3rd Global Rehabilitation 2030 meeting – World Health Organization

Quoting WHO: The need for rehabilitation is far, far greater than most people assume. More than 2.4 billion people, almost a third of the global population, have health conditions that could benefit from rehabilitation”- Assistant Director-General,  Professor Jérôme Salomon opened the meeting with these remarks.

Adding to the spirit of the participants “Foundation, motivation and commitment” were the words chosen by Dr Alarcos Cieza to open the 3rd Global Rehabilitation 2030 meeting.

We would like to express our gratitude for your presence and engagement during the 2-day meeting where WHO has showcased a comprehensive range of new technical products designed to address key challenges in the rehabilitation sector. Your keen interest and thoughtful presentations reaffirmed our belief in the importance of these products. We are confident that they will make a positive impact in strengthening rehabilitation in health systems as stated in the resolution:

The meeting was followed by the World Rehabilitation Alliance (WRA) launch. The launch was celebrated with a video message by Emilia Clarke, actress and rehabilitation advocate, and a musical performance by Ricky Kej, 3x Grammy award winner including the first ever global rehabilitation song! A huge thanks to Ricky and his amazing team for being rehabilitation champions.

If you missed the events you can watch the recordings here:

Committee Recruitment

Interested in joining the team?

Be part of our core team, no global health experience needed, approximately 2-8 hours per month (flexible).

ADAPT is looking for a new member or members in a shared role to join the subcommittee as a Website Content Uploader to help prepare digital content and upload to the ADAPT website. The key responsibility is to accept content from the team and upload to the appropriate locations on the ADAPT website. This will include updating the existing pieces while ensuring proper formatting.

Job Description

Abi Clark – My Story

Having always had a keen interest for humanitarian work, I wanted to involve myself with this area of physiotherapy having recently qualified. Whilst being a member of ADAPT, I was given the opportunity to spend some time working with ‘World Hope International’ in Sierra Leone, through the working relationships I had built. More specifically, I got involved in the ‘Engage the Children (ETC) Programme’ led by physiotherapist Anna Vines. In total, I was living in Freetown for three months, all the while gaining invaluable experience in the field of Global Health, especially as this was my first time working in this area.

I spent time working in a range of both clinic and community settings treating children with disabilities in Freetown and also occasionally up-country. The work I undertook involved treating children through exercises, distributing handmade equipment to aid positioning, and providing education to both families and communities to try and reduce the stigma surrounding disabilities. During my stay I was lucky enough to be involved in the ETC annual beach outing where we brought all of our families together to celebrate disability in an open and supportive environment.

Personally, this trip was about gaining first-hand experience in the Global Health world to hopefully pursue this area of work in the future. In addition to this, I wanted to be involved in Paediatric Physiotherapy, with it being a keen area of interest for me. Experience is what I desired and experience is what I got! From my first day, I was welcomed into the team and got myself stuck in with the work at hand, which allowed me to not only build my competencies in clinical skills but also my confidence in working in settings with limited health resources and infrastructure.

During my time I definitely encountered some challenges; one of the main ones was learning how to adapt according to the surroundings. For example, on many of our home visits equipment, toys, and resources were all limited, meaning that I had to be adapt in my treatment methods. Another challenge was the language barrier, the main language spoken in Sierra Leone is Krio. One of the biggest highlights for me from my entire stay, was actually becoming more confident in speaking Krio, partially in clinic. Speaking Krio to patients and their families made me feel like I was able to improve on my communication and quality of treatment.

I was able to build meaningful relationships with patients and colleagues which only furthered my passion for this area of work and made me feel genuinely fulfilled in the job I was doing.

My future plan following on from this experience is to gain a job completing Band 5 rotations in the UK for the NHS. I want to build my skills and competencies, to allow me to fully equip myself for more roles in Humanitarian and Global Health work in the future. Of course, I will continue to be a member of ADAPT to ensure I keep up to date with Global Health affairs and learn through frequent webinars and working relationships.

I think if I were to give any advice or take-home points, I would say that if you are interested in this type of work there are opportunities around if you are willing to look and find them. I would urge anyone who is interested to seek more information through ADAPT and to also reach out to other physios who have competed similar work.


Elspeth Robinson


In 2002, after retirement as a physiotherapist, I read an article in Frontline about Kumi Hospital, an old leprosy centre in eastern Uganda and now a general hospital, asking for volunteers so I replied and soon arrived into an unknown world. Twenty years later, this has developed into a registered charity with UK Trustees and a local team involved with helping families with children with disabilities and living in extreme poverty in the remote rural areas.


We are partnered with Kumi Hospital, Wheels for the World, Interplast UK and are linked with Dentaid. The local team consists of our team leader who is a social worker, a physiotherapist, a CBR worker, an administrator and a nutrition nurse all of whom are employees of the hospital but are volunteers for KCF. The hospital has an orthopaedic workshop which makes prostheses, simple wooden seating for brain damaged babies and children, standing frames etc.

I stay an average of ten weeks a year and I returned from my last visit in March 2022 when we were joined by our partner Wheels for the World, for a week’s distribution of 119 wheelchairs dispatched from UK and as many again mobility aids. The remaining weeks of our five-week visit were occupied with our rehab programme and fieldwork

The Soroti Care Centre was initiated by our CBR worker to provide support and assessment which we support. Families with children with disabilities or malnourishment can come for assessment and formulation of a treatment plan if appropriate. Home visits follow if necessary. Some of the activities we have include making walking aids such as parallel bars on site with local materials, income generation projects, simple housebuilding, providing wheelchairs, tricycles, mobility aids, rehab, funding for surgeries and hospital nutrition support with the payment of hospital bills with our mission being “Helping Others to Help Themselves”.

We have sponsored youngsters in education all of which have disabilities or a sibling with a disability. We fund school fees from baby class through to university level.


  • The latest challenge has been the COVID pandemic where the Trustees have been unable visit in person but our local team has continued as much as the restrictions allowed
  • The people’s poverty levels and remoteness limit the access to healthcare and hospital services
  • Lack of education in basic health issues and their ability to fund schooling
  • Provision of transport
  • Funding

Highlights of Last Visit

  • The Wheels for the World Visit and Distribution
  • Official Opening Day of the Soroti Care Centre
  • The visiting Dutch Orthopaedic Surgeon’s camp

Future Plans

  • Our next objective is to arrange the surgical mission of Interplast UK for plastic surgery in October 2022. Our local team is identifying the patients and compiling a list.
  • To continue to consider the families holistically and provide resources within our ability
  • To continue with funds raising efforts

Elspeth Robinson MCSP (retired)                                                                                   



An Interview with Alberta Rockson – Interburns

Q. When and how did you become involved with Interburns?

I have been involved been with humanitarian works through clinical works and trainings since 2010 when a Charity from United Kingdom Resurge Africa introduced me to ten days outreach program which was designed to be a yearly program which had started about 2009. This was a call for reconstructive surgeons, nurses and rehabilitation specialists needs for the people of Sierra Leone in one of their districts called Make.

Just before this time I had training in burns rehabilitation in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Scotland. This training was identified as a need for Ghana after a period of time where the visiting surgeons always had to come along with their hand and burn therapist since my country didn’t have any. The outreach program gave me the opportunity to visit Sierra Leone about 4 times and this increase my appetite for advocacy and share my knowledge with others in Africa and beyond.

I was selected to represent Ghana for the first ever Advance Burn Care (ABC) Rehabilitation which took place in Bangladesh in 2015. There I was selected to be a trainer of trainees and that also helped in my zeal to give rehabilitation services to different groups of people using different platforms. The training was by another Charity in United Kingdom Interburns who are into training, education and research in burns to support LMICs. We have had trainings in Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania and online trainings for different international bodies and agencies.

Q. Where have you been spending your time recently?

Recently in November 2021 I went to Sierra Leone following the mass Gas Tanker explosion which killed hundreds and injuring over 300 people.  I was there for two weeks but had previous engagements with the local rehabilitation team to plan and execute enrolment of emergency acute rehabilitation care.

Q. Can you tell us what the project objectives were?

The objectives of the trip were to give the best rehabilitation and meet the needs of the injured patients.
To introduce the role of rehabilitation in the multidisciplinary burn care team.
To teach the local therapist of the approaches in managing Acute burn patients including those in the ICU.
To robe in the students who were the available workforce with close supervision.

Q. What did you find challenging?

The first challenge was seeking for the approval to enable rehabilitation specialist to be sent on the grounds as soon as possible.
The limited number of physiotherapists in the country and their distribution.
Lack of specialised burns therapist in the country.
Reliable and dedicated system with personnel or staff.
Engaging and using level 300 students who were not prepared for mass casualty management both theoretically and practically.

Q. What were the biggest highlights?

The coordination within few days to get the Physiotherapists to be a part of the initial response team was a good attempt.

The willingness of the students to be taught and practice in an area which was new to them in their program and the support with logistics such as internet facility by the Kings Partnership Sierra Leone helped a great deal with the success of the rehabilitation.

The support by an individual company to help in the Mass Casualty went a long way to assist in the acute, medium and long-term management of the patients.

Q. What plans do you have for the future?

To instil advocacy and teamwork in both the local physiotherapists and the students so as to prepare them for any future disaster management. 

To have close feedback with local team to ensure the patients are getting the best of rehabilitation care.

To review the patients for their medium to long term plans by liaising with the local therapists and any other therapist on the grounds.

There are two physical visits to be made before the year ends to ensure the medium to long term management is achieved.