Feasibility of a self-developed online training tool to deliver specialist training


Delivering additional training to build specialist skills within a workforce can be challenging due to time restraints, staff availability and other service demands. Working in a community trust brings additional challenges due to the dispersion of staff across a county.

Online training tools are frequently used as part of mandatory training but are not routinely developed by services for specialist use. Multiple online platforms are available to host such training tools for free. These could be utilised to build tailored training programmes on specialist topics, which could be accessed remotely by staff.

An online training tool for the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) in stroke rehabilitation was developed and evaluated as a pilot project.


A comprehensive literature search was conducted to source recent and relevant literature to inform the content of the tool. An online platform was identified. Multiple components were developed for the resource:


  • A presentation outlining current evidence base and principles of assessment and treatment
  • Worksheets to complete whilst working through the presentation
  • Recommended reading of several key open-access journals
  • Practical resources for printing and utilisation such as an assessment form, flash cards and summaries of electrical parameters
  • An online 18 question multiple choice quiz
  • A detailed written analysis of the literature base
  • A competency checklist for them to work through with their supervisor, to consolidate learning


Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy staff at the Oxfordshire Stroke Rehabilitation Unit were provided with a self-evaluation questionnaire prior to use of the learning tool. This asked them to self-rate their confidence and competence in using NMES, and their knowledge of the evidence base and practical application. The same staff were asked to complete the questionnaire again one week after using the tool. A free text comments box was included on the second questionnaire to seek feedback


After completing the online tool, self-rating scores had improved across all areas for all members of staff. Free text feedback was mostly positive with some areas for further development highlighted.

There is a high risk of bias in the feedback as staff were aware the tool was developed by their manager. However, an increased use of NMES has subsequently been observed on the unit with improved awareness and understanding noted amongst staff, on discussion and through supervision.

Utilisation of an online tool enabled delivery of training on a specialist topic in a time efficient and effective way. Development of the tool was relatively simple and many of the resources aided application of learning within the service. The online tool was reported as easy to access and use. Clinical benefits in the specialist area have been observed post-utilisation.


Development and utilisation of an online training tool is a feasible way to deliver training in a specialist area. This could help overcome some of the challenges faced in upskilling staff across a wide geographical area.

Funding acknowledgements


Additional notes

This work was presented at Physiotherapy UK 2019