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Leigh HaleApril 2017

Message from the Dean

Welcome to the second edition of our School of Physiotherapy alumni newsletter.  And a warm welcome to our new alumni – 2016's graduating class of Physiotherapists.

We are currently already well underway with 2017 teaching and our fourth year students have started clinical placements.  A special note of appreciation to any alumni who are involved with our students.

The start of the year has also been busy for our researchers and our research centre CHARR.  We celebrate the success of Prof David Baxter and team in being awarded a Lottery Health Research Grant for Chronic Pain in Older Adults, and Dr Daniel Cury Ribeiro and teams's success in attaining a HRC Feasibility study grant for a project entitled “The effectiveness of tailored rehabilitation versus standard exercise programme”.  Additionally Prof David Baxter was recently awarded the inaugural  Chaffer Medical Award. The Chaffer Medical is a new annual award offered for the first time this year by the Otago Postgraduate Medical Society for distinguished performance in health research.  A number of research projects have started data collection, and staff have been involved in research activities around the campus.

Our Physiotherapy Clinics in Dunedin and Christchurch (Barrington) continue to develop and grow their services. Our Dunedin Clinic meets growing demand for community focussed exercise classes, is settling back into a newly renovated clinic, and is welcoming our current cohort of undergraduate and postgraduate clinical students.

All in all a busy and exciting start to the year!

Warm wishes,

Leigh Hale, Physiotherapy Dean

Alumni stories

Dr Stanley Paris

physio_stanley paris and group. dunedin.  2017Left to right: Dr Cathy Chapple, Dr Catherine Patla, Professor Leigh Hale and Dr Stanley Paris at recent APTA Combined Sections meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Physiotherapy educator, adventurer, philanthropist and Otago alumnus Stanley Paris (Jnr) graduated from the New Zealand School of Physiotherapy in 1957. Stanley's father was also a physiotherapist who trained at what was then the School of Massage and subsequently ran a private practice in Dunedin. Stanley (Jnr) is possessed of a more adventurous spirit which still holds true today as he prepares for yet another attempt to circumnavigate the earth single handed in his yacht.

In 1963 Stanley travelled on a “Workers Compensation Board Spinal Research Award” to observe teaching and practice of osteopathy and chiropractic in North America and the UK. He began teaching courses in the area to colleagues in New Zealand in 1964 as well as writing his first book The Spinal Lesion. From these beginnings, the idea of a manipulative therapy group emerged and the NZMTA was formed in 1968. Stanley has an outstanding international career as a physiotherapist leading the field of manipulation and manual therapy. He was the founding chairman of the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMT), the international subgroup of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT), formed in 1978 and was recognised by WCPT in 2011 with The Mildred Elson Award 'for outstanding leadership contributing significantly to the development of physical therapy internationally'

We spoke with him recently and asked a few questions about his work

Click to read more about Dr Stanley Paris in this recent University of Otago Alumni newsletter

physio_david williams 2017. cropped

David Williams

BPhty and a MPhty by research (in progress)

A graduate of the School of Physiotherapy, David now works as a very busy practitioner with TBI Health, one of New Zealand's largest, integrated rehabilitation providers. He initially chose to study health sciences after some good natured yet persistent pressure from his family to choose Dunedin with its strong family connections.

Read about David's work in busy Dunedin practice

Mark Overton

Experiences in Occupational Health

Mark OvertonThinking about Occupational Health Physiotherapy? It was an undergraduate placement with Southern Rehab which sparked Mark's interest in providing holistic rehabilitation to individuals with persisting pain and those who are unable to participate in work. Mark Overton commenced postgraduate study soon after graduating because he found occupational health both challenging and enjoyable and wanted to gain further knowledge to develop his practice.

Read more about Mark

Research stories

Research highlight: Targeting pain modulation mechanisms in musculoskeletal conditions

Physio School Senior Lecturer, Ram Mani, is leading an area of research focussing on investigating comprehensive (holistic) clinical pain mechanisms (central sensitisation, and psychosocial and physical dimensions). The goal of this research is to develop personalised, targeted treatment strategies for musculoskeletal pain.

Read more about Ram's research in musculoskeletal conditions

Postdoctoral fellowship in OMT: How does the neck contribute to post-concussion symptoms?

Dr Ewan Kennedy says receiving postdoctoral physiotherapy fellowship funding has enabled him to “get stuck in to hands-on research” on the value of manual therapy (MT) in treating concussion-related neck injuries. CHARR will be hosting a panel discussion later in the year on 'New directions in head/neck trauma research: a panel discussion on whiplash, concussion and other developments'.  Keep an eye on our main research page for further details.

More about the project and what Ewan and colleagues are finding out

Other CHARR research news and events

To keep in touch with our research check out our research page and follow us on Twitter @OtagoCHARR

Student stories

physio student camp 2017 human pyramid

The infamous human pyramid at Orientation Camp 2017

Orientation Camp this year was held at the sunny seaside town of Brighton, just south of Dunedin. This annual student led camp is always a great opportunity for students to meet each other and faculty in a relaxed setting. Here are the reports from Student Executive member and camp organiser Karla van Walt

Meet the Staff

Chris Higgs

Chris Higgs

It's quite a long way from the emergency clinic at Cardrona skifield in Central Otago to a packed classroom, yet Dunedin physio Chris Higgs has enjoyed each step of that journey.

Chris is a graduate of the physiotherapy programme at the University of Nottingham in the UK and headed for New Zealand in part because of his enthusiasm for outdoor adventure sport and endurance racing. Being a man who prefers to work with people rather than paper, Chris chose his profession wisely and for some years was able to live his original dream, working as a physiotherapist focused on outdoor sports while finding time to explore the backcountry around Wanaka.

Read about Chris and his belief that physiotherapists must become even more effective.

physio_equitest in Balance clinic 2017

News from the Clinics

New EquiTest® helps with balance

Equitest machine in use at our Dunedin clinic

Balance is a complex process that depends on 3 major components: our sensory systems (vision, inner ear and sense of touch); our brain's ability to process this information; and our muscles and joints to produce the necessary movement to control balance. Normally these systems work together in harmony, but conditions such as vertigo, inner ear infections or injury, concussion, neurological conditions and musculoskeletal problems can lead to vertigo, dizziness or balance impairment.

The School of Physiotherapy Balance, Dizziness, and Vertigo Clinic works along with area neurologists, ENT surgeons, and GPs to evaluate people with a variety of conditions related to balance. It has been exciting to see the recent installation of our brand new EquiTest® machine. Now we are able to offer a more complete set of EquiTest® and Balance Master® systems; the same computerised diagnostic systems used to evaluate astronauts before and after space flight.

With this our second machine, physiotherapists and clinicians Christine Livesey and Julian O'Hagan are able to more rapidly and accurately evaluate comprehensive data sets and offer more customised rehabilitation options to patients who find their quality of life compromised by neurological and other conditions which affect balance.


Gaynor Brown (Hyland)

Gaynor Brown (Hyland) graduated from the Otago School of Physiotherapy in 1963.

As a newly married young graduate she went first to a position at Hastings Hospital before following her husband Tony to Invercargill where he had taken a job with the Southland Times newspaper. Gaynor was able to complete her Health Department bond requirements at Southland Hospital in 1965. That same year, Gaynor gave birth to the first of four daughters and was away from the profession for a number of years, but remained involved as a physiotherapist with the Parents' Centre in Christchurch.

Read our complete tribute to Gaynor and her groundbreaking work

Other news

As University of Otago School of Physiotherapy alumni – you belong to a rich and diverse world wide community. Stay in touch and continue a rewarding relationship with your University, your fellow Otago alumni and the School.

If you have any suggestions for stories or know inspirational Physio alumni you might like to see us profile, please email: or Freephone 0800 OU PHTY (0800 68 7489) (within New Zealand)

We would love to hear from you.

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