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International Day of People with Disabilities 2021

International Day of People with Disabilities 2021


The current world population is over seven billion people. Of those, almost one billion people, approximately 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. 80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries.

International Day of People with Disabilities is celebrated on 3rd December. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science has an extensive background in researching and supporting people with disabilities.

As part of the UCDVO 2021 programme, 20 student and clinical tutor volunteers from the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science participated in virtual volunteering health projects with UCDVO’s partners Nurture Africa, Uganda; Holy Union Sisters Matumaini Centre, Tanzania and Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre, India. Working together, the following was achieved:

  • 60 children were successfully assessed and fitted for physiotherapy equipment to promote good positioning and prevent deterioration which will significantly enhance function and participation in their communities.

Child being assessed for new equipment in Ferrando Speech and hearing Centre, Meghalaya, India

  • 60 children and their families participated in physiotherapy rehabilitation camps to optimise ongoing care for children with disabilities. Families reported feeling supported and appreciated being given improved knowledge. In addition, they had the opportunity to connect with other families, share experiences and feel less isolated.

Participants in the Ferrando Physiotherapy Camp 2021 receiving graduation certificates.

  • Capacity building and training in nutrition and physiotherapy using high-quality materials and re-usable resources was provided; topics included use of the Gross Motor Functional Classification Scale (GMFCS), disability, toy making, positioning and early child development.
  • Disability inclusion workshops held in Uganda and Tanzania helped build confidence of family members and reduce stigma, while highlighting the positive aspects for the child and the huge role the family play in supporting the child to achieve their full potential and maximise their function.

 UCDVO and Holy Union Sisters, Tanzania 2021

  • Education on health, child development, disability and nutrition was provided to the wider community including community-based workers in Meghalaya, India.

UCDVO and Ferrando Speech and Hearing Centre, India 2021

UCDVO and Nurture Africa, Uganda 2021

Recent research into various forms of disability, undertaken by researchers and staff at the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science include:

  1. Association between engagement in physical activity and adaptive behavior in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder - ScienceDirect 

    Authors: Neville RD, Draper CE, Cooper TJ, Abdullah MM, Lakes KD

    Mental Health and Physical Activity (2021)

  2. Are parental depressive symptoms related to the sleep quality and physical activity of their children with developmental disabilities? - ScienceDirect

    Authors: Abdullah MM, Neville RD, Donnelly JH, Lakes KD

    Research in Developmental Disabilities (2021)

  3. Disability Inclusion in Sport and Exercise. Exploring Gym Staff Experiences.    

    Authors: Cosgrave, S, Markievicz, I, Monaghan, A, Sands, T, Fennelly, O, & Cunningham, C

    World Confederation of Physiotherapy, Dubai (2021) 

  4. Attitudes and beliefs of parents of children with disabilities in Uganda | Social Work and Social Sciences Review (whitingbirch.net)

    Authors: O’Sullivan, C, McGann, S, Atwongyeire, N, Garrett, S, Cusack, T, Hurley, DA,    Cunningham, C & Spillman, I               

    Social Work and Social Sciences Review (2021) 

  5. Detecting subtle mobility changes among older adults: the Quantitative Timed Up and Go test | SpringerLink

    Authors: Smith, E, Cunningham, C, Greene, BR, McCarthy Persson, U & Blake, C               

    Aging Clinical and Experimental Research (2021) 
  6. Retrospective observational study of characteristics of persons with amputations accessing International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) rehabilitation centres in five conflict and postconflict countries | BMJ Open

    Authors: Barth, CA, Wladis, A, Blake, C, Bhandarkar, P, Perone, SA, O’Sullivan, C      

    BMJ Open (2021) 
  7. Mobilisation and physiotherapy intervention following hip fracture: snapshot survey across six countries from the Fragility Fracture Network Physiotherapy Group: Disability and Rehabilitation: Vol 0, No 0 (tandfonline.com)

    Authors: Purcell, K, Tiedemann, A, Kristensen, MT, Cunningham, C, Hjermundrud, V, Ariza-Vega, P, Perracini, M, Sherrington, C           

    Disability and Rehabilitation (2021) 
  8. Neuropathic pain prevalence following spinal cord injury: A systematic review and meta‐analysis - Burke - 2017 - European Journal of Pain - Wiley Online Library

    Authors: Burke, D, Fullen, BM; Stokes, D, Lennon, O      

    European Journal of Pain (2017)
  9. Can vestibular rehabilitation exercises help patients with concussion? A systematic review of efficacy, prescription and progression patterns | British Journal of Sports Medicine (bmj.com)

    Authors: Murray, DA, Meldrum, D, Lennon, O  

    British Journal of Sports Medicine (2017)
  10. Pain profiles in a community dwelling population following spinal cord injury: a national survey: The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine: Vol 42, No 2 (tandfonline.com)

    Authors: Burke, D, Fullen, BM, Lennon, O

    The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine (2019)

  11. Quality of life after spinal cord injury: The impact of pain - Burke - 2018 - European Journal of Pain - Wiley Online Library

    Authors: Burke, D, Lennon, O, Fullen, BM            

    European Journal of Pain (2018)
  12. Users of rehabilitation services in 14 countries and territories affected by conflict, 1988-2018 Bulletin of the World Health Organization (who.int)

    Authors: Barth, CA, Wladis, A, Blake, C, Bhandarkar, P, O’Sullivan, C      

    Bulletin of the World Health Organisation (2020)
  13. IJERPH | Free Full-Text | A Focus Group Study to Understand the Perspectives of Physiotherapists on Barriers and Facilitators to Advancing Rehabilitation in Low-Resource and Conflict Settings (mdpi.com)

    Authors: Barth, CA, Donovan-Hall, M, Blake, C, Akhtar, NJ, Capo-Chichi, JM, O’Sullivan, C   

    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2021)

UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science Lecturer/Assistant Professor Olive Lennon is currently coordinating a very exciting pan-European project “PROGAIT” (Physiological and Rehabilitation Outcomes Gains from Automated Interventions in Stroke Therapy), focussing on an interdisciplinary, international exchange programme to advance the field of neural biosignal use during robotic gait training after stroke.

To find out more, see www.progait.eu.

Lecturer/Asst Professor Olive Lennon; Robotic exoskeleton

UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science

University College Dublin Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7777 | E: public.health@ucd.ie