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My Australian life: Pramodhi Bethmage

Posted: 18 October 2023

Scholars Platform, Sri Lanka, Experience, Grants, Scholar,

In addition to a world-class masters-level degree, Australia Awards scholars have the opportunity to use their time in Australia to build their networks and capabilities. One way in which scholars can do this is through applying for a Professional Development Activity Grant. Sri Lankan scholar Pramodhi Buddhima Perera Bethmage, who is currently studying a Master of Speech Pathology at Flinders University, received a grant which enabled her to participate in a workshop on ‘Designing Rehabilitation for Dysphagia: Biomechanics vs Physiology’ in Adelaide, South Australia.

The workshop was organised by Speech Pathology Australia and addressed advancements in clinician understanding of the nature of difficulty in swallowing, driven by a need to increase rehabilitation, specificity and functional patient outcomes.

Pramodhi standing proudly in front of her university.

‘After attending the workshop, I was able to explore new knowledge and skills in the rehabilitation of people with swallowing difficulties,’ says Pramodhi. ‘When I return to Sri Lanka, I will be able to play a major role in activity limitation and participation restrictions, which will result in better inclusion and equity of the Sri Lankan people with swallowing impairments, giving them holistic management.’

Pramodhi felt fortunate to learn from Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee, the resource person of the workshop and an award-winning global expert in clinical speech pathology.

Pramodhi with her husband (far left) and proud Kaurna and Narungga man, Jack Buckskin, attending a cultural event at Flinders university.

In discussing how the workshop helped her develop her network, Pramodhi says, ‘This was a great opportunity for me to meet, collaborate with and learn from experts in the field. As a student member of Speech Pathology Australia, I look forward to developing more professional networks, including globally, as well as learning and sharing new knowledge and interpersonal skills in a multicultural environment. Professional linkages that I develop here will be beneficial to share up-to-date resources and information and grow the profession in my home country.’

By attending the workshop with the support of the Professional Development Activity Grant, Pramodhi will be able to implement up-to-date strategies for rehabilitation of swallowing difficulties in a Sri Lankan culture and context, which will eventually increase the quality of life of stroke survivors and their caregivers. Pramodhi was also able to distinguish between the impaired biomechanics and pathophysiology of swallowing difficulties, utilise the findings of clinical cranial nerve examination to increase diagnostic specificity of swallowing difficulties, differentiate the principles of strength training and skill training, and provide examples of skill-based swallowing training. She hopes to share the knowledge and skills she gained from the workshop with her colleagues and professionals in national and district hospitals in Sri Lanka. Pramodhi also hopes to train junior speech pathologists working in swallowing rehabilitation, thereby helping to advance speech therapy in Sri Lanka.

Pramodhi enjoying her time in Australia.

‘I am privileged and thankful for this grant opportunity,’ Pramodhi says. ‘If not for this grant, I may never have had an opportunity to take part in such a valuable workshop organised by one of the leading speech pathology associations in the world.’