Physical therapy

Therapy and Justice Presentation Recording and Resources

In light of the recent events, there is a greater need now than ever to examine power and bias within therapy as well as amplify a multitude of perspectives on healing outside of Western, Eurocentric theories and ideologies. Robin Chancer, LCSW, a psychotherapist at Program for Torture Victims (PTV), presented on "Therapy and Justice: Unpacking Western Bias and Expanding Healing" back on August 10 and the recording and resources were shared. 

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Pelvic floor involvement in male and female sexual dysfunction and the role of pelvic floor rehabilitation in treatment: A literature review

This article includes an overall review of the literature about the efficacy of physiotherapy when working with clients who have pelvic floor issues, including incontinence, painful sexual functioning and other concerns.

Rosenbaum, T.Y. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2007; 4: 4-13.

This article was reviewed by doctoral physical therapy student from the University of Minnesota, Torey Tilahune, 2019.

Link to full text article is found below.


The sphincteric and supportive functions of the pelvic floor are relatively well understood, and the specialized field within physical therapy

Working With Survivors of Torture - The Mind-Body Connection


Many clients seen by programs that work with survivors of torture experience chronic pain, anxiety, and other symptoms long after their traumatic experience. This two-part mini-course will focus on the role of the mind-body connection in the treatment of survivors of torture in both individual and group settings.  In the first session our presenters will provide an outline of concepts and approaches regarding the clinical application of meditation, physical therapy, and yoga with survivors of torturefollowed by a thirty minute question and answer period.

Physiotherapist Day of Service: Helping Children in Amman, Jordan

For many professionals who do healing work, it is a good feeling to be able to bring your skills and experience to people who might not otherwise have access to your service. When a chance arose to bring physiotherapy work to a nonprofit organization in Amman, the CVT Jordan team was happy to step forward. Beginning in 2015, an international group of physiotherapists (PTs) was inspired to start a project called the PT Day of Service. For one day in October, they call upon PTs around the world to engage in a day of helping within their communities, all with the mission to “Change lives. Grow community. Better the World.”

Finding the Most Effective Ways to Help Children Affected by War

At CVT Jordan, one of the most powerful and successful things that we are doing on the physiotherapy team is the children’s group sessions. During my three and a half years as a physiotherapist at CVT, I have come to understand how important it is to include the parents in their children’s healing journey. In order to get the best results, at CVT we have modified our approach as we’ve learned from the children and their parents.

Key Social Services for Refugee Survivors of Torture

In my work with survivors of torture in Jordan, every day I see how social services are an integral and extremely important element of healing. CVT uses an interdisciplinary model of care in our Jordan program, and social services represent the third angle of CVT’s services triangle, fully integrated with the other two disciplines: mental health counseling and physiotherapy. With this interdisciplinary approach, we are able to better serve beneficiaries (clients).

Creating a Safe Space for the LGBTI Community in Nairobi

At CVT Nairobi, our counseling staff has been helping LGBTI clients with mental health care for several years. Most recently, we integrated physiotherapy after clients were raising concerns about the well-being of their physical health. From the counseling group cycle, a 10-week physiotherapy cycle was developed, focused on a safe space for LGBTI clients to address functional issues such as chronic back pain, musculoskeletal disorders and pelvic floor disorders.

Physiotherapy Helps Individuals and Communities

Hope is hidden within client stories, even when those stories are full of wounds. After surviving war and torture, clients’ lives have changed, and this really affects the whole family. But after clients go through the rehabilitative care cycle with CVT, I see change and hope. I see mothers helping their children after the trauma they’ve experienced. The children become comfortable with their mother again, and the mothers have told me they feel like mothers again to their children. The whole family is once again affected, but in a positive way.

Physiotherapy Outcomes at the Center for Victims of Torture-Nairobi program

Since CVT’s physiotherapy program began in Nairobi, around 260 clients have been assessed at both intake and six month follow up on the Pain and Discomfort Inventory (PDI). On all items, clients showed statistically significant improvements in levels of pain and functionality. Approximately 130 clients have been assessed at both time periods with the Disability Rating Index (DRI) and we observe statistically significant improvements in functional ability for 10 of the 12 activities.

Nearly all of the clients are also receiving, or have received psychosocial counseling services as well.

Physical Therapy in Nairobi

Last November, I made my fourth trip to Nairobi to visit our CVT project. As a physical therapy advisor to our Kenya staff, I serve as a consultant, supervisor and colleague to Jepkemoi Kibet, our physical therapist/trainer in Kenya. Jep, in turn, supervises and trains our local physical therapists, Stephen, Jennifer and Collins. We have four treatment sites where we lead physical therapy sessions: at our main offices in the Westlands neighborhood we work with young women; in the Eastleigh neighborhood we work with Somali refugees; and in the Riruta and Kayole areas we see mixed groups of refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo.

Helping Physiotherapists Examine the Ways Torture Survivors Think About Pain

Pain is one of the many problems to be addressed in survivors of torture. And in my work as a physiotherapist trainer at CVT, every day I attend to clients with chronic pain as a result of torture. I recently had the privilege of presenting at the International Conference of Physical Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health in Madrid. Along with Julie Phillips, from the Department of Physiotherapy at University of the Western Cape, South Africa, I presented on the “Cross Cultural Adaptation and Validation of the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) among Victims of Torture.” The role of catastrophization in the development of chronic pain has gained a considerable amount of attention in research over the past few decades, so our topic was quite timely.

Physiotherapy to Help Survivors of Torture in Their Darkest Hours

Most people will have the experience of having a nightmare at some time. It’s not pleasant, but we deal with it. For a survivor of torture, however, a nightmare can be an extremely difficult situation. During a nightmare, the torture survivor relives his trauma. And by “relive” I mean it’s like a video he is watching of the experience. His body reflects this in his sleep. He may wake up in the same position as when he was tortured. This is one of the things I help people with in my work as a physiotherapist at CVT.

Building Clients’ Trust Through Physiotherapy

Since I joined CVT in 2015, I have had the opportunity to see healing and change happen. I see torture survivors who come into the program afraid, with limited mobility and an inability to talk about what has happened to them. But by the end of the ten-week cycle, I see them talking, helping each other and increasing their movements – I believe that building trust is one of the most important things that leads to healing....

Prevalence of pain in the head, back and feet in refugees previously exposed to torture: A ten-year follow-up study

This article looks at the change over 10 years concerning pain in the head, back, and feet among previously tortured refugees now residing in Denmark, and to compare associations between methods of torture and pain at baseline and after 10 years. Pain in the head, back, and feet were chosen because they are frequently reported symptoms. Conclusions were that: Pain increased, despite treatment at RCT; Treatment does not decrease risk of continuing or increasing symptoms of pain; 20 years after torture took place, increasing proportions of survivors seems to suffer from pain associated with the type and bodily focus of the torture. This presents a considerable challenge to future evidence based development of effective treatment programs.


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