International Activities

Collaboration with Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Center in Thailand

Brief Introduction

The Sirindhorn National Medical Rehabilitation Center (SNMRC) is one of the biggest rehab centers in Thailand, and it plays an important role not only in providing medical and rehab services to the region, but also in improving the quality of medical and rehab services provided throughout the whole country.

In 2009, the SNMRC purchased new instruments in order to establish Evidence Based Clinical Practice there. The VICON system is one of those items, and it collects kinetic and/or kinematic information in human motions. Professor Yoshihiro Ehara at Niigata University of Health and Welfare (NUHW) was invited to the SNMRC as an expert on Motion Analysis, particularly in applying 3-D motion analysis systems, and he is expected to contribute to SNMRC staff's capacity development. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by and exchanged between the SNMRC and NUHW on July 2, 2009, when the collaborative relationship officially started. In the first and second meetings held at the SNMRC, the core members of the two institutions gathered and discussed overall activities expected over the next two years.

The following is one of such collaborative activities. Project members from NUHW visited Thailand between 20 and 23 of September, 2009. During that time, Dr. Yoshihiro Ehara and Mr. Kazuhiro Sakai of NUHW visited the SNMRC and had a meeting with the SNMRC's core members regarding their Motion Analysis Project. They also attended the training course for introduction of VICON with the SNMRC staff.

On September 21, 2009 the training course for introducing VICON was held in Bangkok. The lecturers were two staffers from VICON Company, who attended the training course. One was from the VICON agency in Perth, Australia, and the other was from the VICON agency in Thailand. The trainees were four participants from SNMRC and several students from the Suranaree University of Technology. About twenty participants took the training course. The VICON (NEXUS) software for data collection was presented. Practical training on its operation followed.

In Thailand, VICONs are set up at three universities, namely, the SNMRC, the Mahidol University and the Suranaree University of Technology. It is said that more and more universities will have VICONs in the near future. At the agency of VICON in Thailand, technical service is not available, and the nearest VICON agency is the one in Perth, Australia. In this context, technical support from Japan is strongly expected.

On the second day of the conference a discussion was hold at SNMRC. The participants were Dr. Yoshihiro Ehara and Mr. Kazuhiro Sakai of the NUHW, Dr. Daranee, Director, SNMRC, Dr. Watchara, Vice-director, SNMRC, Dr. Piyavit (medical doctor) and Mr. Thawatchai, Section Chief of the PO. The following is the agenda discussed at the meeting: a) Dr. Ehara inspected the VICON room on September 21. He pointed out some things that should be improved; b) Dr. Piyavit explained his hope in establishing cooperative research activities with the Japanese team. After a discussion, it was concluded that the first theme of the research would be "Normal Gait Analysis (bare foot/with shoes)". It was also decided that Dr. Piyavit would create a research plan with the cooperation of the research team; c) Dr. Ehara and Mr. Sakai proposed a tentative plan of a training course at NUHW as the next step.

The overall results of the discussion were as follows: Two staff members would visit Japan for two to four weeks in December or March. They will participate in some training sessions in English with our students. The content of the training was on basic knowledge of biomechanics. Basic movement of healthy individuals would be analyzed by VICON.

Mr. Sakai had an interview with Ms. Kinoshita, JICA, at the JICA Thailand Office. Mr. Sakai obtained information on a research grant from the JICA and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Also, Mr. Sakai reported the cooperation status between the SNMRC and NUHW and acquired some information on the proposal procedures for obtaining research grants from JICA.

To briefly summarize the visit, Dr. Ehara and Mr. Sakai utilized that system for clinical service improvements. In addition to that, all the people concerned in the project, on both the SNMRC and the NUHW sides, confirmed the specific goals for the next two years, and understood each member's roles and responsibilities.

Ms. Pornsuree, a prosthetist & orthotist, and Dr. Chompunut, a medical doctor, visited our university to study about the VICON in 2010. A workshop was held for them. Dr. Yamamoto from International University of Health and Welfare, Dr. Ehara, and Mr. Sakai visited the SNMRC to consult their clinical research. Ms. Pornsuree made her second visit to our university and stayed in Niigata three months to study more about biomechanical research in the same year. In 2011, Mr.Sakai, Dr. Ehara, and Dr. Yamamoto had a workshop in Thailand with the budget from JICA to improve the data analysis skills of Thai people. Mr.Sakai, Dr. Ehara, and Dr. Yamamoto had two more workshops in 2012 and 2013.