Bariatric Rehabilitation: Call to Action

In the past years, the Canadian Obesity Network has hosted two think tanks on the importance of rehabilitation expertise in the prevention and management of severe obesity. The proceeding of the first bariatric rehabilitation workshop held in Edmonton, Alberta in 2008 was now published in the latest edition of Disability and Rehabilitation.

Participants at this think tank consisted of around 50 health professionals, administrators, researchers and even EMS professionals.

The main goal of this workshop was to identify gaps in research and professional training that need to be addressed in light of the burgeoning number of individuals with severe and extreme obesity in Canada.

According to this paper:

“Gaps in knowledge and research included the need for better understanding of the biopsychosocial causes and consequences of obesity and the role for novel and existing rehabilitation interventions to prevent and treat obesity. Research is needed to explore how existing rehabilitation interventions and technology impacts the patients with obesity, who also have physical and psychological impairments typically treated by rehabilitation practitioners.

Although the need for rehabilitation for persons with obesity is documented in the literature, the capacity in terms of human resources, funding for research and technology and the development of bariatric friendly, accessible environments is limited. Participants of this meeting reinforced the need to develop training programmes in the form of continuing education and the inclusion of topics in bariatrics in discipline specific training programmes.

Additionally, in order for patients, their families and healthcare professionals to have access to obesity prevention and treatment services, models of care and education that reach out to rural and marginalised communities must be used. These currently exist through forms of telehealth, webinars and online courses.”

Clearly a bariatric rehabilitation is a topic that deserves far more emphasis in the training of health professionals and an area where there is an urgent need for rehabilitation research regarding best practices in dealing with this rapidly growing vulnerable population.

A full report on the Canadian Obesity Network’s First Bariatric Rehabilitation Think Tank can be downloaded here.

Edmonton, Alberta

Hat tip to Mary Forhan, first author of this paper, and congratulations on the recent successful defense of her PhD thesis.