Strengthening Physical Rehabilitation in Georgia

Speeches Shim

Friday, December 3, 2021
Leila Chantladze

Leila Chantladze holds a Masters in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program from Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU).  In January 2018, she started working as a Program Assistant for the USAID Strengthening Physical Rehabilitation Project in Georgia, where she provided assistance to specialists from the United States who travelled to Georgia to work with local rehabilitation professionals. To do this, Leila had to move to Tbilisi from Kobuleti in the Adjara region, together with her father, who required constant care and support due to a spinal injury.      

Three years later, Leila is now an active member of the project team.  As Program Manager,  Leila leads the program’s work supporting local physical therapists and capacity building their clinical reasoning and case-based rehabilitation skills. She organizes training, workshops, and clinical discussions for Georgian specialists, leading the transition to remote training and clinical supervision during the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 related restrictions began to be lifted, Leila pivoted again to provide hybrid clinical support, consisting of remote sessions for physical therapists combined with targeted on-site clinical supervision.  

Leila’s work with rehabilitation specialists from the USA and Europe has completely changed her understanding and experience of physical therapy, widening her vision of what physical therapy can be. Leila took part in a study visit to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA where she received constant support form the faculty and administration, and observed the faculty while they conducted training. During the pandemic, the University also sent lecture recordings from their physical therapy courses to strengthen Georgian expertise. 

Leila said: "I want to express my greatest gratitude for this amazing support to Dr. Marie Johanson, an Assistant Professor and Associate Director in the Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine."

Leila has also progressed in her own right as a young leader in the field of physical therapy. In 2019-2021, she took part in the World Physiotherapy Congress, the largest meeting of the physical therapy community in the world, and a focal point for sharing knowledge and expertise among physical therapy professionals worldwide.      

Working side-by-side with international professionals and professors at Emory University gave Leila invaluable clinical and educational experience. She said: 

"I can recall the first year of the Program when our invited physical therapist Mrs. Gail Freidhoff Bohmann was asking me to translate physical therapy related documents. I had a hard time handling the task, not just from the professional viewpoint but also due to linguistic obstacles, as the right terminology did not exist. The situation has significantly changed since then, and now we have a lot of Georgian language evidence-based physical therapy materials, such as outcome measures and documentation forms. I developed some of these myself, which I am very proud of." 

As Leila comes from the coast, she was always keen to develop aqua therapy in Georgia. She recently became a member of International Organization of Aquatic Physical Therapy - IOAPT, which will provide a great opportunity to build and strengthen this type of physical therapy in Georgia. Talking to colleagues and IOAPT members is very helpful, as the subject of aqua therapy is not strongly supported or covered by physical therapy and rehabilitation departments in Georgian universities. 

Now, the project is in its final phase, and program partner clinics have begun to change their clinical practices in physical therapy, a great achievement. 

Leila says: "It makes me happy to see how clinical practice has changed in just a few short years, from physician-led physical therapy to a more multi-disciplinary direction with documentation of therapy sessions, patient assessments, and individual and goal-oriented interventions. Patient/parent education interventions are one of the best changes that before I could only dream of. I want to express my gratitude to all the international physical therapists who work with us on our program. They have continued to support us, over great distances and sometimes over their work hours, to provide us with consultations and guidance."


Last updated: December 03, 2021

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