London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Public Health and Disability)
Public Health Foundation of India – Indian Institute of Public Health Hyderabad
I started my professional career as an occupational therapist in 2003 at Christian Medical College Vellore. Since then I have been actively contributing to teaching evidence-based occupational therapy to allied health students. My research interest grew up from there. I have also involved myself in writing and publishing research papers and have been an active author for the Cochrane collaboration since then.
In my initial career experience, I gained knowledge and expertise to help people affected by spinal cord and brain injury. Over a period of time, I was developing services for people outside hospital setting and creating support groups for people with spine and brain injury. This helped me explore more about my interest in working with communities of people with a specific problem. During 2007, I moved from CMC Vellore to Nepal to work on an emergency rehabilitation project in Nepal for Handicap International.
My experience in Nepal was very useful to think and view through the lens of bio-psychosocial aspects of care and rehabilitation for people with disabilities. Interest shifted from health of individuals to health of communities. Having gained interest to contribute to the community of people with disabilities, I came back to India and I pursued MPH post-graduate program to further develop my research skills. After the completion of my post-graduation in public health, I moved to the U.K with an objective to understand how health systems work in developed countries.
In my career experience as a stroke specialized clinician in the U.K, I was also able to understand not just the relevance of doing research and also the rigorousness of this relevant research. My first grant application was the outcome of this understanding. This reflective research understanding helped me become a successful applicant for the doctoral research grant from prestigious institutions (Wellcome Trust and Public Health Foundation of India).
As a part of my doctoral study, I developed a smartphone-enabled carer-supported educational intervention for management of physical disabilities following stroke in India. This intervention was named as ‘Care for Stroke’. It was developed using the systematic approach to development and evaluation of complex interventions, as recommended by the Medical Research Council (MRC). To the best of my knowledge, there is no other stroke rehabilitation intervention enabled through mHealth platforms that are available and relevant to India. Intervention like ‘Care for Stroke’ is one of the strategies for addressing the unmet needs for stroke rehabilitation and for bridging the gap in access to stroke services worldwide. Therefore, as a next step and as recommended by the MRC, the ‘Care for Stroke’ intervention needs to be evaluated for its clinical and cost effectiveness in an Indian context through a randomized controlled trial.
I applied for the Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliance –Early Career Fellowship in Clinical and Public Health Research and here I am fortunate enough to write to you all about my journey as a fellow. The systematic and rigorous selection process and experience of this fellowship was absolutely amazing. Amazing because, I was completely informed and supported throughout the process by all means.
I have an undergraduate degree from the Tamilnadu Dr MGR Medical University in Occupational therapy, a post-graduate degree from SRM University in Public health, specializing in Health programme management and PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). I had worked as a clinician, academician and researcher since 2003 in India, Nepal and also in the U.K. I am a member of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability (ICED) at LSHTM, South-Asian Centre for Evidence in Disability and Inclusive Development Research (SACDIR) Public Health Foundation of India and The Cochrane Collaboration as an Author.
My main research interest is mainstreaming disability in health and development with a particular focus on low and middle income countries and neuro-psychiatric conditions. I am committed to achieve this by developing and strengthening rehabilitation systems and policies for people with disabilities, particularly in low and middle income countries.