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About all rehabilitation

New Challenges and Horizons Following The Covid-19 Pandemic

On Wednesday, October 12th, 2022, the newly-named British Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine is holding its Annual Scientific Conference – virtually, so you may attend from anywhere!

Introduction to BSPRM 2022 Annual Conference

The BSPRM (British Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine) 2022 Annual Scientific Conference reviews changes affecting rehabilitation, changes arising from Covid and other developments.

Society is keen to put COVID-19 behind it. Still, as health professionals, we are aware of the vast number of people that continue to be affected, the impact it has had on other services and the worrying insights it has revealed into the care and health of patients in care homes. At the same time, we saw rapid and significant adaptations in healthcare provision and services and advances in biological and pharmacological interventions. Rehabilitation was recognised as an essential part of holistic healthcare for patients during and after the acute phase.

The remote BSPRM autumn conference on October 12th 2022, will highlight areas where rehabilitation practice has changed during this period. The day will start with new research on the management of dysautonomia and use of exercise after COVID 19 and finish with an update on the management of a small but vitally important group cared for in nursing homes, those with persistently impaired awareness after brain injury.

Overview of the programme

The programme starts with two talks on particular Covid matters: the management of the dysautonomia experienced with Covid and how usual exercise training for patients with cardiac or pulmonary disease may need to be adapted when a patient also has Covid. These two talks focus on patient management.


The second colossal change associated with Covid has been adapting service delivery, and the third talk concerns rehabilitation after major trauma, which has changed dramatically since 2012. In 2012 there was no organised service or approach, and very few specialists in rehabilitation after trauma. Now there is an expert trauma rehabilitation service in every part of the UK, some more experienced and well-resourced than others. We considered it appropriate to learn about best practices and priorities.


The development of prostheses for people with loss of parts of the arm has also been transformed over the last ten years as micro-technology, and electronic control mechanisms have improved. There may still be a way to go, but soon arm prostheses may be suitable for much more widespread use, and we will learn about likely developments.

Research presentations

Members of the British Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine are involved in research and service development relating to rehabilitation. Indeed at least 10% of our members are research active; there may be more.


The Annual Conference provides an excellent opportunity for members to talk about and present posters on their work. Who knows what exciting new facts or ideas we will hear about; anyone interested may submit an abstract. The ten best will be selected for a fast-forward presentation, an innovation first used in Warwick in 2019. We know that two medical students who won prizes for essays on rehabilitation will be talking.

Community, cancer,cars, consciousness

The vital role of community rehabilitation has been highlighted by the Covid pandemic, especially by Long Covid. Coincidentally the Community Rehabilitation Alliance was founded in 2019, and the British Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine is a funder member and active participant in this Alliance. The CRA is developing standards for best practice in community rehabilitation, which will show that providing community rehabilitation requires as much expertise as needed in Level 1 specialist centres. All rehabilitation requires expertise and special skills.

Cancer is common, and the Department of Health has prioritised cancer care. Up to this point, the UK has not provided expert rehabilitation for people with cancer in a systematic way. There are areas of excellence, but these are rare. The new Rehabilitation Medicine curriculum trains doctors to cover all rehabilitation, including rehabilitation for people with cancer or recovering from treatment for cancer. Many services in other countries do this routinely. We have asked an expert from Toronto to help us learn about this area of rehabilitation practice.

We will all have heard about automatic cars. They may, possibly, transform travel but right now, the car is still predominant. COVID-19 caused significant problems for the Driver and Licensing Vehicle Authority (DVLA) as staff could not work, leading to a delay in responding to questions about medical aspects of driving. We have invited an expert from the DVLA to help us understand our medical responsibilities when advising on returning to driving.

The management of patients with a Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness is another area where Rehabilitation Medicine is the leading speciality. In July 2018, the Supreme Court radically changed the legal situation for such patients in England and Wales, emphasising the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in making decisions and the need for more active management. The British Medical Association published specific guidance on Clinically Assisted Nutrition and Hydration in response to the changed legal position. The Royal College of Physicians revised national guidance two years later to reflect this. We, therefore, felt that an update on the pharmacological management of patients with a Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness was appropriate.


You should click on the appropriate line below if you wish to:

Derick Wade – Chair of the communication committee

John Burn – President BSPRM and Chair of the conference organising group

Ece Yilmaz-Kara – Chair Education committee

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