Therapy students scoop global physio awards - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Therapy students scoop global physio awards

27 Jun 2018

Two USC Occupational Therapy students have won awards at the 2018 Singapore-International Physiotherapy Congress for their research into boosting health and assisting recovery from injury.

Claudia Cutler, 21, of Mountain Creek won the Best Overall Poster award, while Cheyenne Baines, 21, of Sippy Downs gained the prize for Best Presentation: Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at the recent conference attended by about 300 industry professionals.

Claudia’s poster was a snapshot of research conducted as part of her Honours degree and featured innovative items such as a QR code that provides information on how to build a personal force sensor that can test various physical functions.

“It was a good way of showing clinicians the great things we’re doing at USC, particularly regarding hand strength assessments for people who have experienced hand injuries,” Claudia said.

Cheyenne’s presentation detailed research on gait speed (one of the best indicators of overall health status) and the development of a device that dramatically reduces testing time and provides a more accurate score than a traditional stopwatch.

“The judges were very impressed with our research into a low-cost device that’s able to measure walking speed and that can be used anywhere, not just in a clinical setting,” Cheyenne said.

“I was up against physiotherapists from all over the world, so to win the award was a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment.”

The students’ research supervisor, USC Senior Research Fellow Dr Ross Clark, said it was rare for students to be invited to present at conferences like this, let alone win awards.

“It’s particularly interesting given they are OT students at a physio congress, but those two industries really do work hand-in-hand,” said Dr Clark, who is also a National Health and Medical Research Council RD Wright Biomedical Fellow.

During their trip, the USC students also visited the Singapore General Hospital – a facility about four times the size of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Claudia, who expects to have a research paper published in the Australian Occupational Therapy Journal soon, said she was excited about her future as an occupational therapist.

“I’m just so grateful for this opportunity and being able to work with USC academics, like Dr Anita Hamilton, who has years of clinical experience,” she said. “That has helped me so much.”

— Michelle French


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