The St. John’s Handbook of Rehabilitation

1Dr Kurian Zachariah was recommended in 1996 by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, for the starting of the PMR Department at St. John’s Hospital, Bangalore. In 2001, the Vimla Virmani award from the National Academy of Health Sciences was awarded to him for outstanding work done in the field of rehabilitation in the country. In 2009, Dr Kurian was nominated by Dr. Balu Sankaran, the former Director of the World Health Organisation for the Dr. B.C. Roy National Award for Best Talents in encouraging the Development of Specialties in different Branches of Medicine. He hopes the SJHB will result in people recognising disability as a vast untapped source of economic wealth which will benefit the nation.

Imagine how much would the National Economy be boosted if an additional 6 crore (60 million) people are able to contribute productively! This Handbook, targeting the MBBS Doctor, or the Nurse in a Primary Healthcare Centre, or anyone interested in working for the disabled, explores the simple steps that could be followed to increase the productivity of the individual, the family, the society and the entire nation.

The topics covered include musculo-skeletal disorders, stroke, diabetes, neurogenic bladder, spinal cord injury, hypertension, haemophilia, pressure sores, pulmonary rehabilitation, amputations and many more.

A special feature is that professionals, patients, caregivers (and a cartoonist!), have joined hands to co-create the St John’s Handbook of Rehabilitation. The Handbook is focused on “converting resource-burners into resource-earners”.

This is only the beginning. Come let’s join hands as we strive to improve the National Economy!


When we were a young nation, we were beset with innumerable problems. The scars of colonial rule and Partition left us a nation struggling to build the basic facilities for a huge population with extremely limited resources at our disposal. Steadily, through relentless zeal, innate ingenuity and tireless work, our previous generations have built us the platform, standing on which not only we are the envy of many, but can aspire to literally take our limits beyond Mars!

With the elementary goals being met, it was time to introspect upon how the quality of life and productivity of the people in general can be improved. Our ability to prevent mortality in myriad diseases has left a substantial population salvaged from an erstwhile lethal illness, but existing below the threshold for being gainfully employed. As actions speak louder than words, our place in our family and in the society is dictated more by what we are doing rather than by who we are. Being robbed of the ability to contribute productively thus leads to a loss of dignity, self-respect and morale for the individual recovering from an infirmity.

How can this situation be changed? The easier approach would be to import advanced technology and skills and cater to that fortunate few having the copertinameans to access and afford them, or we can draw inspiration from our forefathers and set up the system where these individuals can benefit from resources from our own community, gradually imbibing the advancements being made abroad, simultaneously promoting our own research in these areas. It is this latter approach that has been adopted by Dr Kurian and his colleagues, to empower this segment of the population to reclaim their place in our country’s growth story.

During the course of his work, Dr Kurian had felt that often it was not the resources that were lacking, but it was the knowledge and sensitization of the primary Doctors and Nurses working in the rural areas that was just below the threshold level for successful rehabilitation. It was this realization that was the driving force behind 18 months of constant work that has culminated in the publishing of the “St Johns Handbook of Rehabilitation”.

Although primarily meant for MBBS Doctors and the Nurses in Primary Healthcare Centres who are the first point of contact of the majority of our population with the healthcare system, this Handbook will serve to educate any MBBS, Nursing or paramedical student or post-graduate trainee in India as well as in most developing countries, on the basics of holistic rehabilitation.

As you go through the book, you will realize that rehabilitation is an art and a craft. I think this was aptly reflected in the making of the Handbook, where the editors, authors,

publishers, administrators and benefactors, under the able stewardship of Dr Kurian toiled in harmony to bring out this unique publication.

It is my sincere wish that as you read this Handbook you will be able to transform what you read to knowledge, attitude and practices; and that as leaders you will be able to guide others to do the same. If you do this, you will help not just 60 million Indians, but the entire country.

Rev. Dr. Paul Parathazham

Director St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences

Bengaluru – 23rd December, 2014