Best Practice Management of the Hemiplegic Upper Limb – how effective is the community of practice learning model in translating evidence into practice

Ms Melissa Rixon1, Mr Thao Nguyen1, Ms Eloise Thompson1, Ms Laura Smith1, Rachel Minett1

1Melbourne Health, Parkville, Australia

Sixty-nine percent of acute stroke patients have upper limb impairments on admission. Over 400 physiotherapists and occupational therapists have attended the ‘Best Practice Management for the Hemiplegic Upper Limb’ course since 2012. Given the global pandemic, an online learning model including communities of practice was utilised in 2020.

To understand how effective the community of practice model is in translating evidence into practice for the ‘Best Practice Management for the Hemiplegic Upper Limb’ course.

This is a mixed-method study. Twenty-four physiotherapists and occupational therapists enrolled in three communities of practice sessions, had online content access and were asked to complete three surveys (pre-, post- and three months post-course). The primary outcomes of the study are the clinicians’ knowledge, confidence and practice changes. This qualitative data will be analysed to determine translation of evidence into clinical practice.

Twenty-three participants completed the pre-course survey, eight participants completed the post-course survey and five participants completed the three month post-course survey. Participants recognised the positives of an online forum reporting “I enjoyed the conversational aspect”. Most feedback was recognising the challenges with technology and teaching a practical course online. Participants reported “the course would have been better face-to-face with hands-on experience”. Interim results suggest there are mixed responses to the communities of practice model.

The communities of practice model requires clear expectations to be set by facilitators and participants to support the transition of learning into practice. Ongoing considerations for future courses include strategies for hands on teaching virtually.


Rachel is an occupational therapist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital working within the inpatient rehabilitation ward, predominantly with a neurological population. Rachel is currently completing a Masters of Clinical Rehabilitation through Flinders University.

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