Deakin University PhD graduate, Niveditha Devasenapathy, is working to develop and evaluate a telerehabilitation intervention for post knee replacement care in India. This is especially important for India’s health system which has a doctor-to-patient ratio of around 1:1500, which is much lower than the WHO recommendation of 1:1,000.
A doctor by training, Niveditha Devasenapathy has always been passionate about helping society and improving patient care through research. Her passion led her to shift her career path from clinical practise to research and training. While in pursuit of excellence, she learned about the Deakin India Research Initiative (DIRI) that provides an opportunity for researchers to pursue a fully-funded in-country PhD program at Deakin University while being employed at a partner institution
Talking about her journey, Niveditha says “I enrolled for a PhD scholarship at Deakin University in 2016 and around the same time secured funding for my thesis project through an intramural competitive grant at Public Health Foundation of India. I chose the School of Exercise and Nutrition as it is a well-known department and suited to my research area. This arrangement also allowed me to pursue my thesis project being in India, guided remotely by my supervisors at Deakin, -Prof Daniel Belavy and Prof Ralph Maddison. I recently completed my PhD in October 2020 – studying recovery after knee replacement surgery among Indian patients.”
Niveditha was motivated to work in this area by her personal experience of being a caregiver to a family member who underwent a knee replacement procedure. She was struck by the paucity of data regarding standardized care pathways, challenges experienced by patients during recovery, and overburdened health care providers in developing countries.
“My PhD helped me to think clearly and improve my scientific writing skills. It gave me the confidence to apply for a national level, highly competitive Clinical and Public Health intermediate Fellowship grant (2020). I was successful in securing the five-year fellowship that will enable me to develop and evaluate a telerehabilitation intervention for post knee replacement care in India,” adds Niveditha.
If telerehabilitation is found to be feasible, acceptable and better than existing care in public health care settings, then this approach of providing support and monitoring remotely, can be extended to the optimal treatment for other chronic disease conditions, particularly those involving the elderly.