Reflections of ten years collaboration with Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS)

"It is easier to change mindset and behaviour in a foreign environment than in the home environment, where the power of habit often prevails. "

Kristina Kindblom

Body Awareness Training with students in Pravara
Body Awareness Training in Pravara Foto: Kristina Kindblom

Since more than 10 years the division of Physiotherapy at Karolinska Institutet and PIMS College of Physiotherapy have had an ongoing and successful collaboration. Mostly the collaboration was based on a so-called Linnaeus-Palme (LP) Partnership. During the years 20 teachers and 23 students participated in the exchange. 

We have asked Kristina Kindblom, LP project leader at KI, to tell us more about the collaboration and give her reflections. 

Kristina, what was your first impression of PIMS?

I felt immediately at home at Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and in Loni. A feeling I share with many of the participants, both teachers and students. Every day came to be an adventure. In 2010 I got a visiting professor employment and in 2011 the first year of L-P programme was initiated through a planning trip.

Students walking with Nordic Poles in Pravara
Students testing walking with Nordic Poles in Pravara.

What have the long-term goal for this collaboration been?

The long-term goal for the collaboration between KI and PIMS was to develop a Public Health perspective on physiotherapy together. The Public Health perspective should embrace various different aspects, such as

  • health promotion
  • physical activity
  • movement and body awareness
  • Natural Mobility
  • exchange of pedagogic methods
  • qualitative research methods
  • professional development
Teachers and students within the exchange
Swedish and indian students in Pravara. Photo: Kristina Kindblom

So, what is your overall reflection from the collaboration?

It took about four years to develop trust and openness for a good collaboration. In my experience good cooperation and trust is the basis, if you want to achieve a sustainable change. It is also important to have one responsible person as a coordinator on each side. Thanks to this trustful relationship, also other departments at KI have started collaborations in other areas, such as medicine and dentistry.

Even though the LP project for Physiotherapy now has finished, the collaboration will continue. In the future collaboration Swedish teachers can apply for research grants and be involved in the on-going Osteoarthritis research project. The Spinal Cord Injury Centre is still under development, but research projects can be added to explore the value for patients and for India. Swedish and Indian students can still go on exchange even though we cannot longer provide the incoming students with grants. For Indian teachers and students, we hope to find grants possibilities to continue the exchange. My visiting professorship continues at PIMS as a coordinator.

Hula Hoping in Pravara
Introduction Hula Hoping in Pravara Foto: Kristina Kindblom

What was need do to achieve the project goal?

The process to improve physiotherapy education at KI and PIMS started with establishing “trust”, to listen, to show interest, curiosity and to highlight resources. The shared knowledge was physical activity, educational methods, qualitative research methods, health promotion, geriatric care and professional skills.

Physical activity is not part of the Indian culture and needed to be adjusted to Indian conditions. Participating teachers from KI brought for example Hula-hooping, DVDs for group training, thera band, pedometers and BungyPump (Advanced Nordic poles) on her exchange to show and for physical activity training for teachers and students.  Also initiated through one of the Swedish students projects on physical activity, a new gym at PIMS has been constructed for both women and men. Also, the female students have been invited to play basketball with the maleteam, inspired by the Swedish students.

Since autumn 2019 Natural Mobility, Basic Body Awareness, qualitative research method and one-hour physical activity a week are now parts of curriculum at PIMS.  A PIMS teacher initiated an annual fitness test for all teachers, on an exercise bike to further inspire physical activity. The improvements gave inspiration to start a research project on Osteoarthritis, led by Christina Opava and to develop a Spinal Cord Injury Centre at PIMS, led by Inka Löfvenmark. The teaching in general has shifted from an individual approach towards more teaching together (Indian and Swedish teachers).

At KI Academic debate techniques, yoga and Rangoli (Indian art form that can be used for communicating ideas), have been incorporated in the international/inter-professional CHBR course. Academic debate is not part of the Swedish culture. Here support from the Indian teachers and students was needed to include debate in the education at KI. Debates have now been used a number of times within the teaching faculty and with students, who mostly have given positive feedback.

Celebrating Lucia. Photo: Kristina Kindblom

What is your best experience from the collaboration?  

The best experience is the deep friendship, which has developed and taught me about myself and about India. To focus on resources and ability and try to understand has played a key role. Understanding through comparison started. Why do Indian physiotherapist treat patients with cloth on and Swedish physiotherapists mostly without? Why do we speak about theory and the Indian people about philosophy? This way of thinking is exciting and learning and will be valuable for the rest of my life. It also provides an opportunity to continue the collaboration. According to my experience it is easier to change mind-set and behaviour in a foreign environment than in the home environment, where the power of habit often prevails. To support that, it has been important to guide the participants in seeing what is interesting and exciting in the foreign environment, rather than focusing on faults.