IFSHT—What does it mean to you?

IFSHT—What does it mean to you?

GUEST EDITORIAL IFSHT-What Does It Mean to You? International events playa major part in our lives-the media, the newspapers, and the Internet confro...

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IFSHT-What Does It Mean to You? International events playa major part in our lives-the media, the newspapers, and the Internet confront us with news of disaster, world political events, social gossip, foreign travel possibilities, international wildlife-conservation, and the arts. In the sphere of medicine, surgery, and health care, the- influence of leaders of the professions across the world has made a great impact on the practice of hand therapists. in 1986, the International Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy (lFSHT) was formed in Paris, France. Evelyn Mackin was instrumental in the formation of the IFSHT. The seed hadbeen sown in 1980, when, with the support of Alfred Swanson, the 1980 President of the American Society of Hand Surgeons, nine members of the American Society of Hand Therapists traveled to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to participate as panelists and speakers at th~ First Congress of the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand (lFSSH). Approximately 200 therapists and surge..o ns from 10 countries met; the meeting was a great success. Hand therapists from several countries participated in the Second Congress of IFSSH in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1983 and in the Third Congress in Japan in 1986. Annette Loveridge is the President of the International Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy (lFSHT). A founding member of the British Association of Hand Therapists (BAHT), she has been Chair of the Association and is currently a member of the Postgraduate Education Subcommittee of BAHT. Annette has been part of the team responsible for developing a certification system for hand therapists in the United Kingdom. With a special interest in the management of burns, she has contributed to several publications on burns of the hand and upper limb. Annette has been responsible for compiling a history of the BAHT. This interest in the topic led her to become Historian and then Secretary General of the IFSHT. Annette hopes to raise the profile of IFSHT across the world.

In December 1986, shortly after the Third Congress in Japan, a group of therapists including Jean-Claude Rouzaud and Evelyn Mackin met during a meeting in Paris of the French Society of Hand TherapistsGEMMSOR (Group D'Etude de la Main' et du Membre Superieur). Encouraged by Raoul Tubiana and Yves Allieu from France, Georgio Brunelli from Italy, and Swanson, the IFSHT was founded with an initial membership of 12 countries. The First International Congress of IFSHT was held in Tel Aviv, Israel, in April 1989, with Evelyn Mackin becoming the founding President of the IFSHT. The United States has always been in the forefront of the growth and progression of hand therapy across the world. Evelyn Mackin in her Presidential Address to the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) in January 1987 stated that during her year of office she had attended meetings and visited centers that took her to five other countries outside the United States-England, France, Sweden, Japan, and Poland. She spoke of ASHT having members in Canada, Japan, Sweden, The Netherlands, Israel, and Kuwait at that time in 1982. She reminded delegates that the United States had pioneered a profession that was a significant and vital part of the health care system and had "only just begun to spread its wings." Credit for the major portion of essential groundwork and teaching must be given to the first generation of hand therapists in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these hand therapists are at the peak of the profession today. An inspiration to all hand therapists who worked with her was Nathalie Barr (1910-1993). She worked in Derby, England, with Guy Pulvertaft, the first President of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, in the 1940s after World War II and later in the 1950s and 1960s with

Wing Commander Kit Wynn Parry at Chessington, Surrey, England, and with Paul Brand in the leprosy field in Hong Kong. Since that time, she has been a role model for many hand therapists across the world. In a paper presented by Barr in July 1986 at the First Conference of the British Association of Hand Therapists in Warwick, England, entitled "Development of the Hand Therapist," she spoke of the roles of physiotherapists and occupational therapists that emerged through the work of surgeons developing expertise in hand therapy in the early years after World War II. She stated "this was a time of challenge and as most pioneer projects are, an era of excitement and ventures requiring imagination and initiative." This excitement and the need for imagination and initiative continue today throughout the world. Today's hand therapists need to make links with each other from one country to another. Not only have Americans traveled abroad over the past 20 years to pass on their skills in other countries and gain experience from other centers of excellence, but also many therapists from across the world have traveled to the United States to train, observe, and work. Foreign subscriptions for the (American) [ournal of Hand Therapy today come from 43 countries. This emphasizes the important role that international hand therapy events play. I believe there is still a limited knowledge of the role of the international societies for hand therapy across the United States. As President of the IFSHT, I am grateful for this opportunity to bring the attention of [ournal of Hand Therapy readers to the aims, advantages, and achievements of the IFSHT. The IFSHT today currently comprises . 27 member countries, with several newly formed hand societies about to join as well. The IFSHT was founded for the purpose of coordinating the activities of the various societies for hand therapy internaJanuary-March 2003


tionally to increase and enhance the exchange of knowledge of hand therapy. The IFSHT aims to promote}he unrestricted and complete exchange of knowledge among the participating societies, to facilitate and extend study possibilities in the various countries, -to exchange knowledge through publications and scientific meetings, to investigate the socioeconomic effect of disabilities of the hand, to further cooperation between surgeons and hand therapists, and to promote the advancement of the principles and practice of hand therapy internationally. Full membership of the IFSHT is limited to organized societies consisting of therapists who have state registered qualifications and who practice as physical or occupational therapists. (Full membership is not open to individuals.) Associate members are small groups of therapists or individual therapists from countries who are unable to form a national hand therapy society. Each country . appoints an International Delegate, who is responsible for disseminating information concerning IFSHT affairs to that country's membership. There is a Triennial Congress of IFSHT which, when the organizing country can demonstrate organizational skills and flnancial''stability, is held in conjunction with the Congress of IFSSH. If this is not feasible, other member countries are invited to put in a bid to. host 'the Congress. At the start of an IFSHT Congress, a council meeting of the Executive Council and all the delegates is held to review and discuss international concerns and to vote on the venue for the next Triennial Congress. Each national delegate has a vote at the council meeting, the Council being the managing body of the IFSHT. The last Congress was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2001. The next Congress will be in Edinburgh, Scotland, organized by the British Association of Hand Therapists, in June



2004. The following congress will be held in Sydney, Australia, in March 2007, organized by the Australian Society. It is hoped that many countries will be well represented at the Congress in Edinburgh in 2004. At present, the IFSHT is actively involved in setting up and developing various aspects of postgraduate education across the world. A fund for a voluntary hand therapy program is being developed in which therapists from the member countries of the IFSHT may apply for grants to develop hand therapy in countries where the profession is in its infancy or where financial and scientific resources are poor. Members also will have the opportunity to apply for grants to visit centers of excellence across the world. It is hoped that many countries may want to share in this opportunity to exchange ideas and gain knowledge internationally. An opportunity has been given for the IFSHT to assist hand therapists in the Eastern European countries. In May 2003, a small group of experienced hand therapists from the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia will go to Hungary to run a 2-day postgraduate course for the newly formed Hungarian Association of Hand Therapists. It is hoped that therapists from neighboring countries also will attend. This is the first time that an IFSHT-sponsored course has been planned and was the result of discussions with the Hungarian hand surgeons at the Congress in Istanbul in 2001. The IFSHTwebsite (wwwifsht.org) has been set up to provide information about our organization, a notice board, details of visitor programs, congresses, and exchange of ideas. This website will link closely with the websites of many other countries, including the United States. It is vital today that we all focus globally. Many of us have been affected by the events of September 11, 2001, and by the many environ-

mental and political catastrophies across the world. A change of attitude is occurring whereby we are all attempting to look outward rather than inward. Evelyn Mackin in 1982at the ASHT Annual Meeting reminded the membership that: "Each one of us must accept the challenges that motivated the founding members; it is up to each one of us to remember the goals of our Society and our profession; it will be by the efforts of each one of us by participating in Society activities that new programs or the modification of ongoing programs will meet these goals-accept the challenge, add your own, pass it on!" Nathalie Barr at the First Conference of the British Association of Hand Therapists in Warwick, England, in 1986 told the delegates, "Maturity brings with it responsibilities not least of sharing knowledge, teaching the less experienced, debating, researching and recording. Dear Colleagues, you have very busy time ahead of you." These words of advice are especially meaningful today. Let us act upon them! -ANNETIE LEVERIDGE, Dip.Cot., President IFSHT, Willller of tile Britisli Nathalie BarrAward, Founding member of BAHT

Acknotoledgments The author acknowledges Evelyn Mackin, for allowing her to quote from her Presidential Address to the Annual Meeting of American Society of Hand Therapists in January 1987.

REFERENCES 1. Barr N. Development of the hand therapist. BAHT Newsletter. 1986;No. 5, 11-1. 2. Swann D. In Memoriam: Nathalie Barr. Br J Hand Thcr. 1993;1:4-5. 3. Leveridge A. A history of the British Association of Hand Therapists, Part I. Br J Hand Ther. 1997;2:23-25.