Needs of refugees emphasised at physiotherapists' conference


The special needs of refugees who have been tortured were stressed at a physiotherapists' conference in Limerick at the weekend. About 40 per cent of refugees who come to western Europe have been exposed to torture in some way, the conference was told.

"These survivors can be encountered anywhere and it is important that the physiotherapist be aware of their special needs and how to deal with them," said Ms Anne O'Brien, president of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. She was speaking at the ISCP's 14th annual conference in Limerick.

Ms O'Brien listed the torture endured by some refugees, including "sudden banging sounds, screeching, piercing cries, children crying, electrical stimulation [and] total submersion in water and traction". A slow calm approach was needed when dealing with patients along with an explanation of the physiotherapist's role in assessing them.

Ms O'Brien said a module had been introduced at UCD to teach the treatment of the after-effects of torture to physiotherapists.

The Minister of State for Education, Mr Willie O'Dea, opened the conference.