Disaster Management and Role Of Physiotherapists


Disaster: meaning " Sudden accident or natural event that cause great damage or loss of life "

"A disaster is a Natural or Man-Made hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction , loss of life ,or drastic change to the enviornment. It is a phenomen that can cause damage to life and property and destroy the economic, social and culture life of people."


    Disaster Management

    Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95% of all deaths caused by hazards occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural hazards are 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries than in industrialized countries. No matter what society disasters occur in, they tend to induce change in government and social.

    India is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world.

    • Over 65% land area vulnerable to earthquakes
    • 70% of land under cultivation prone to drought
    • 5% of land to floods
    • 8% of land to cyclones
    • A major disaster occurs every 2-3 years
    • 50 million people affected annually
    • 50 million houses damaged annually along with human ,social and other losses.
    • During 1985-2003 , the annual average damage due to natural disaster has been estimeted at 70 million USD dollar.

    Classification of Disaster

    Disaster divided into two part :

    • Natural
    • Humanmade

    Natural Disaster

    Natural Disasters

    • Earthquake
    • Volcano
    • Floods
    • Tornados
    • Tsunamis
    • Tropical Cyclones
    • Landslides

    Human made Disaster

    Manmade Disasters

    • Nuclear Leaks
    • Chemical Leaks
    • Oil Spills
    • Collapse of buildings, bridges, mines, tunnels

    Disaster Management

    It is planned and systematic approach, organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and recovery in order lessen the impact of disaster.

    It means that all such measures should be taken so that hazard can't take the form of disaster. if we can not prevent the coming many natural hazard but can reduce their harmful effects through proper management.

    Physical therapist services can be an important component to emergency preparedness, disaster response, and recovery, given that patient and physiotherapist are uniquely positioned to understand mechanisms of injuries and many health conditions that result from a disaster.

    They can provide interventions that can free up ICU beds or reduce patients’ need for equipment such as ventilators when demand is overwhelming. Additionally, because PTs and physiotherapist are experts in mobility.

    Various studies in previous years ranked Nepal as one of the prone country for seismic hazards. With these prior predictions, Nepal faced catastrophic earthquakes on 25th April and 12th May 2015.

    8789 people were dead and 22309 were injured. Proper injury management and rehabilitation is one of the important priority now and this is not possible without the physiotherapist.

    A continuous and integrated process of planning, organizing, co-ordinating and implementation the measures which are necessary for:

    • Prevention of danger or threat of any disaster.
    • Reduction of risk of any disaster or its severity and consequences.
    • Preparedness to deal with any disaster.
    • Promote response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
    • Assessing the severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster.

    Disaster management is usually decomposed into four phases

    1. Mitigation
    2. Preparedness
    3. Relief
    4. Recovery
    Disaster Management


    Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Typical eforts of mitigation are organizing resources, identifying the characteristics and potential consequences of hazards and insurance.


    These may include participating in policy and strategic planning for your local community and developing your own facility’s emergency preparedness plan.

    Preparedness refers to measures taken to prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters.

    Preparedness efforts include improving the effectiveness of emergency response by developing a preparedness plan in strategic, operational, and tactical-tiers, early warning systems, and public training for disaster risks and responses.


    Relief refers to the process of responding to a catastrophic situation, providing humanitarian aid to persons and communities who have suffered from some form of disaster.

    Typical efforts of relief are saving lives, protecting property and environment such as the search and rescue of human beings, and repairing and reconstructing houses. 

    Losses caused by disasters can be reduced by not only post-disaster relief and recovery but also pre-disaster mitigation and preparedness.


    Actions taken after a disaster to restore services and reconstruct communities. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.

    Physical Injuries

    In the disaster there are so many peoples had died, injured. Most injuries occured from falling from buildings and collapsings houses. Disability impairnment including bones fractures, nerves injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic conditions, joints dislocations. 

    So many injuries occurs like lower limbs fractures, spine fractures, pelvis tilt, upper limbs bone's fractures. In any traumatic conditions, spinal cord mostly affected and may occurs like neuroprexia  .

    Role of Physical Therapist in Disaster Management ?

    Disaster Management Preparedness

    Physical therapists should be considered central to disaster management and an intrinsic part of planning for and responding to events such as earthquakes and floods. Need for high quality rehabilitation after disasters.

    Bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, peripheral nerve injuries, and burns are common injuries in disasters and conflicts which can lead to physical or cognitive limitation in functioning in the victims.

    But it also emphasizes that the role of physical therapists is not limited to direct provision of rehabilitation. It embraces preparedness and recovery and can include assessment, coordination, psycho-social support and advocacy.

    Disaster survivors treated in services with rehabilitation facilities have reduced length of hospital stay, fewer complications and better clinical outcomes compared with patients in centers with no rehabilitation physician supervision .

    The significant roles of allied health professionals, such as occupational therapy, physiotherapists in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, are well documented.

    The role of physiotherapy has been more crucial in the medium to long term responses, to assist the injured to regain optimal function and to help them to return their previous level.

    Physical Therapy

    If rehabilitation intervention is provided in time, they can result in better health outcomes; reduce hospital stays and the probability of long term disability. Rehabilitation includes improving an individual’s ability to function and to impact his/her environment.

    Rehabilitation includes prevention of the loss of function, restoration of function and increase or maintenance of current function.

    Physiotherapist may play a primary role in triage, treating acute orthopedic trauma, and wound care, as well as respiratory care in critical and ward settings. Physiotherapists can treat the problem generated by disaster related to respiratory compalints, burns, peripheral injuries, traumatic condition like spinal cord injuries, paralysis, stroke management, orthopedic and muskuloskeletal injuries.

    " A key role of physiotherapists is to enable safe exercise in vulnerable populations and the impact of environmental factors including climate change therefore cannot be ignored."

    Team Work

    Team working is a critical part of the job in physiotherapy, whatever setting you work in and whatever role you have. 

    Physio staff work together with other physio colleagues, allied health professionals and health and social care staff, day in day out.

    Collaboration and co-operation helps us to share work and responsibility, harness our individual contribution, skills and experience, and is essential to delivering quality and safe patient services.

    " We understand that every injury is unique. Our goal is to help you regain the independence and skills you need to return to the highest level of functioning possible."

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