Pauline Koh, principal physiotherapist, SPD Therapy Hub

Who inspired you in how you manage your role? Since young, I have always looked up to my dad for staying calm in challenging situations and being the problem solver. [...]

Who inspired you in how you manage your role?

Since young, I have always looked up to my dad for staying calm in challenging situations and being the problem solver. He knew how to care for people who were sick or injured, and often had solutions to problems when nobody has them. Growing up, my dad inspired me to pursue a helping profession and I found joy in being a part of the solution to hard-to-resolve situations.

What was your first major project after joining SPD Therapy Hub?

A year after joining SPD Therapy Hub, I was tasked to be part of an inter-disciplinary team to pilot the Transition to Employment (TTE) programme. TTE helps persons with acquired disabilities integrate back into the workforce and one of the main diagnostic groups we serve are persons with spinal cord injury. 

Spinal cord injury rehabilitation is known to be a niche area of clinical practice, where clinicians require additional competency building beyond their undergraduate training. So, I was quite anxious about this role but decided to take up the challenge as I was keen to help meet this need in Singapore. 

How did SPD prepare you for such an important role?

To prepare me for this assignment, SPD provided me with various learning and competency-building activities. I went on a two-week study visit to healthcare facilities in Finland and Sweden, where we learnt about their physical and vocational rehabilitation service models. This was followed by a clinical attachment with the spinal cord injury team at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s rehabilitation department. 

The TTE programme was officially launched in June 2014, and it has achieved relative success in rehabilitating persons with disabilities back into gainful employment. To date, I continue to play different roles including clinical supervision within it.

How have you grown professionally at SPD Therapy Hub?

More recently, I had the privilege of working on research projects with researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS).  We published a few research papers in international journals that describe the outcomes and experiences of those who participated in TTE. 

About a year ago, I completed a part-time postgraduate programme and received my Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Science with the support of my supervisors, peers and colleagues.

What could SPD Therapy Hub offer?

I think SPD is unique for its reputation and capabilities in providing holistic care for individuals with physical disabilities, as it has done since 1964. The organisation’s scale and breadth of services allows me access to different resources, such as expert advice on assistive technology, for which our centre was the pioneer in Singapore. 

How has joining SPD Therapy Hub impacted your career?

The trust the local and overseas healthcare and education sector has for SPD creates many opportunities for collaboration. This is good news for therapists who, like me, aspire to create an impact on a larger scale. SPD continues to help me grow in my professional development and clinical competency. I feel empowered to apply my skills and knowledge to effect meaningful changes and solve problems.


I see that there are still gaps to fill and more work to be done in this sector. And I find joy in knowing that here at SPD, there’s a chance for me to be a part of the solutions.