Original Research

The value of a short practical training course for newly qualified therapists working with children with cerebral palsy in South Africa

Takondwa C. Bakuwa, Sonti Pilusa, Gillian Saloojee
African Journal of Disability | Vol 9 | a610 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v9i0.610 | © 2020 Takondwa C. Bakuwa, Sonti Pilusa, Gillian Saloojee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2018 | Published: 21 April 2020

About the author(s)

Takondwa C. Bakuwa, Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi
Sonti Pilusa, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Gillian Saloojee, Malamulele Onward NPC, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common and most complex disabling disorder in children. Newly qualified therapists are expected to manage CP despite feeling inexperienced and inadequately prepared. Short postgraduate practical training courses could potentially help bridge this readiness gap. However, the value of these short courses in addressing the knowledge and experience gap is unknown.

Objectives: To establish the value of a short practical training course on the self-perceived readiness of newly qualified South African trained therapists to work with children with CP.

Method: Secondary analysis of records on therapists’ immediate evaluation of a short practical training course on CP management was completed. The analysis included records from 11 courses collected over a 2-years period (2015–2017). Paired t-tests were used to determine the change in knowledge in the quantitative questionnaire. Qualitative data were analysed inductively to determine themes.

Results: The majority of therapists had their expectations met by the course. Therapists’ self-perceived level of knowledge about various aspects of CP after the course changed significantly. Therapists appreciated the adult teaching and learning methods, conducive learning environment, the relevant and organised content and holistic approach of the course. They demonstrated readiness to adopt positive attitudes, perceptions and practice following the course.

Conclusion: A short practical postgraduate training course in CP is valuable in addressing the self-perceived lack of readiness amongst therapists with little experience in this area. It is capable of improving the knowledge and changing attitudes, perceptions and practice intentions positively, and thereby potentially improving the quality of service offered to children with CP.


continuing professional development; newly qualified therapists; cerebral palsy management; short practical courses; South Africa


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