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USAID awards Emory $4.5M to establish physical therapy profession in country of Georgia

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Holly Korschun

USAID has awarded Emory University a four-year, $4.5 million grant to establish the profession of physical therapy in the country of Georgia. The grant will be used to establish a PT training center in the Emory Kobaladze Learning Center in Tbilisi, and to establish a clinic in Tbilisi and Batumi, the second largest city, which is on the Black Sea. USAID is a U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.

"There is a strong need for physical therapy services not only for the returning wounded soldiers who are part of the coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the overall population that suffers from chronic conditions like strokes, Parkinson disease and other conditions where physical, occupational and speech therapy will make a profound difference," says Zoher Kapasi, PT, PhD, MBA, director of the Emory Division of Physical Therapy and professor of rehabilitation medicine.

The third year of the grant will see the establishment of a network of clinics throughout the country of Georgia. Georgia has no nursing homes or other similar facilities, so all the patients with strokes, amputations, motor vehicle accidents, landmine injuries, dementia and Parkinsonism are cared for by caregivers at home. An important part of the grant will be to train these home caregivers.

As a key part of the grant, the Emory team also will explore the use of information technology to improve the quality of life of the disabled people, following the lead of a group in the US. Tbilisi State Medical University. They will supply the clinical facilities in Tbilisi and be deeply involved in teaching activities. A company in Tbilisi that produces wheelchairs and other assistive devices will be a partner to the Emory team.

In addition to Kapasi, the Emory team includes Archil Undilashvili, MD, MPH, director of educational programs in Emory School of Medicine as Chief of Party; Marie Johanson, PT, PhD, professor and associate director of the Division of Physical Therapy; Gordon Churchward, PhD, assistant dean for medical education and student affairs in Emory School of Medicine; and Kenneth Walker, MD, professor of medicine, Emory School of Medicine.

Faculty members and students who are interested in this project may contact Dr. Walker in the Department of Medicine by email:

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