ICDR-India’s objective is to promote collaborations to improve rehabilitation, education and vocational training services for people with disabilities in underserviced areas of India and to conduct research in the field of rehabilitation and to promote fundraising for disability services.


Chairs – Dinesh Krishna and Ramasubramanian Ponnusamy  – ram.clinicalplacement@gmail.com

Co Vice-Chair Education: Chamila Anthonypillia   c.anthonypillai@gmail.com

Vice-Chair Research: Franzina Coutinho  franzina.research@gmail.com

Co Vice-Chair Research: Marie Brien  researchassociate@amarseva.org


Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA), is an Indian non-government organization located in Ayikudy in the state of Tamil Nadu in rural South India that was founded in 1981. ASSA’s facilities include an integrated school, vocational training and higher education centres, school for children with intellectual impairment and multifaceted rehabilitation centres with a focus on spinal cord and stroke rehab. Community / village based rehabilitation programs at ASSA includes early intervention program children below age 6, school age rehabilitation program for children above 6, self-help groups, vocational training and livelihood development programs. In total, ASSA serves more than 15,000 people with disabilities in over 800 villages each year.  


Handi-Care Intl. (HCI), is a registered Canadian charity, founded in 1992 with a focus on supporting people with disabilities in low resources settings. HCI has supported projects in both Canada and India, with its main partner being Amar Seva Sangam. HCI has facilitated clinical placement and volunteer opportunities for rehab students and professionals in rural India. 

Ramachandra University (SRU-SLHS) 


Amar Seva Sangam

In partnership with Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA), ICDR-India has sent Canadian physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech language therapy students to South India for clinical placements since 2019.

Handi-Care Intl. (HCI)  has agreements with 11 universities across Canada to facilitate clinical placements at ASSA for rehab students.  106 OT, PT, SLP students, physiotherapy students, have participated in the clinical placement program since 2015. In addition, HCI has recruited 42 rehabilitation professionals (OT, PT, SLP) to be volunteer supervisors for Canadian students at ASSA. Students and therapists work with the ASSA’s disabled children and adults and focus on capacity building, knowledge exchange, and sustainable interventions. At ASSA, there are 4 OTs, 9 PTs and 1 SLP that are capable of supervising Canadian students. 

Focus areas for student placements have included: 

  1. In-patient Adult Spinal Cord Rehab
  2. Out-patient Adult Stroke Rehab‎
  3. Early Intervention Rehab Program 
  4. School Age Children Rehab Program‎
  5. Special Needs School (children with intellectual disability)‎
  6. Village / Home Based Early Intervention Program (age 0-6)‎
  7. Village / Home Based Rehab Program for Children (age 6-18)‎
  8. Out-Patient MSK Rehabilitation 








Mr. Ramasubramanian , PT – Clinical Placement Coordinator ASSA







ASSA’s OTs (3), PTs (7), SLP (1) attending workshop on student supervision 









Students on Clinical Placement 

Ramachandra University 

The placement with Ramachandra University provides a unique opportunity for speech language therapy students.


We have had a number of research projects along with University of Toronto’s Dept of Occupational Therapy involving Amar Seva Sangam’s Early Intervention program. Projects have included examining the impact of Parent Empowerment Groups, Assistive technology provision program impact and impact of student and community awareness programs. We continue to seek collaborations with interested faculty and students to take on new projects and continue existing projects with ICDR-India.

Current Project

  • Early Intervention Therapy for Children with Delayed Development: Enabling Access in India Rural Communities. ASSA has developed a village-based early intervention rehabilitation program to improve access to early identification and early intervention therapy for children with developmental delay. Increased access to therapy will enhance physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development, and increase inclusion and participation of children with delayed development within families, schools and communities. An evaluation is currently underway to evaluate the impact of ASSA’s Village-Based Early Intervention program for children with developmental delays, age 0 – 6 years, and their parents/caregivers on developmental trajectory, school enrolment, treatment compliance, and caregiver change. Funded by Grand Challenges Canada. April 2017 – March 2020.  https://www.grandchallenges.ca/grantee-stars/sb-0819-05/

Presentations and Publications

  1. Deepalaxmi Paresh Poojari, Shashikiran Umakanth, G Arun Maiya, Bhamini Krishna Rao, Marie Brien, Amitesh Narayan Perceptions of family-centred care among caregivers of children with cerebral palsy in South India: An exploratory study. Child Care Health Dev 
  2. Krishna, D., Krishnamurthy, S., Kalyanasundram S. A Unique Smart Village for People with Different Abilities.Smart Villages. Bridging the Global Urban-Rural Divide. Edited by Lakshmanan, VI, et. al. Springers, 2021. Pages 401-424(2021).
  3. Krishna D, Mutthukarrupan S, Bharathwaj A,  Ponnusamy R, Srinivasan, S, et al.  Rapid-cycle evaluation in an early intervention program for children in South India: optimizing service providers’ quality of work-life, family program engagement and school enrollment.Frontiers in Public Health(2020).
  4. Muthukaruppan S, Cameron C, Campbell Z, Krishna D, Srinivasan, S,  et al.. Impact of a family-centred early intervention programme in South India on caregivers of children with developmental delays.Disability and Rehabilitation. (2020).
  5. Hunt M, Ponnusamy R, Goulet A, Anthonypillai C, Krishna D. An integrated knowledge translation project to develop, implement, and evaluate a train-the-trainer program at a community rehabilitation program in Tamil Nadu, India.Disability and Rehabilitation. (2020).
  6. Storr, C., MacLachlan, J., Krishna, D., Ponnusamy, et al. Building Sustainable Fieldwork Partnerships between Canada and India: Finding common goals through evaluationWorld Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, . (2018) 2056-6077.
  7. Abdulrahman, J. (2016). A fieldwork placement at Amar Seva Sangam: A “just-right” experience in community-based program development. Occupational Therapy Now, 18(4), 19-21.


  1. Coutinho, F., Krishna, D., Brien, M., Rajeshwaran, P., Venkatachalapathy, N., and Saxena, G. (2022, October 3-7).Early Intervention App and Digital technology: Bridging the rehabilitation service gap in India. 17th International Child Neurology Conference, Antalya, Turkey.
  2. Coutinho, F., Krishna, D., Brien, M., Rajeshwaran, P., Venkatachalapathy, N., and Saxena, G. (2022, October 3-7).The Enabling Inclusion (EI)® App: A story from rural South India about COVID-19 and digital technology. 17th International Child Neurology Conference, Antalya, Turkey.
  3. Coutinho, F., Venkatachalapathy, N., Borish, M.,  Krishna, D., Brien, M., Chandran, K., Ponnusamy, R. (2022, August 28- 31).Parent WhatsApp groups in an early intervention community-based program in rural South India during the COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study. World Federation of Occupational Therapy, 2022, Paris, France.
  4. Coutinho, F., Storr-Ordolis, C., Krishna, D., Brien, M., Ponnusamy, R., Venkatachalapathy, N., MacLachlan, J., Chan, J., Saxena, G. (2022, August 28- 31).Building the capacity of Indian occupational therapists, Canadian student occupational therapists and occupational therapy services in rural South India through virtual fieldwork placements: A global partnership. World Federation of Occupational Therapy, 2022, Paris, France.
  5. Technology Leveraged Early Intervention Solution. Presented to TN Governor Shri R.N.Ravi at Amarseva Sangam’s 40th year celebration, Ayikudy. June 19, 2022.
  6. Community Based Early Intervention Model – The ASSA Experience. Presented at the Society of Indian Physiotherapists: 6th Annual Conference, Chennai, India. April 29, 30, May 1 2022.
  7. Enabling local provision of assistive technology in rural South India: A survey of needs, barriers, and facilitators.Free paper presented at the Combined 11th Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine and the 3rd International Alliance of Academies of Childhood Disability Conference 2022 (Aus CPDM/IAACD 2022), March 1-5, 2022, Melbourne, Australia. Presented by Ms. Marie Brien.
  8. Beyond Telerehabilitation: Reaching Children with Disabilities during Covid-19 Pandemic in a Community-based Early Intervention Program in Rural South India. ID: 135. Presented at the 4th Annual International Developmental Paediatric Association Congress. Nurturing Children in Crisis. Dec.2-5, Beirut, Lebanon. Presented by Ms.Navamani Venkatachalapathy and Ms.Marie Brien.
  9. Integrating the ICF model, family-centered care and community-based rehabilitation in Rural South India: The Enabling Inclusion Model and App.Presented at the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine. Oct.6-9, 2021. Presented by: Ms.Marie Brien.
  10. A knowledge translation project to develop, implement and evaluate a tailored rehabilitation train the train programat Amar Seva Sangam, Tamil Nadu, India. Poster Presented at the International Conference Knowledge Translation in Rehabilitation 2021, Montreal, Canada. June 14, 15. Presented by: Ramasubramanian Ponnusamy, Chamila Anthonypillai and Anik Goulet.
  11. Enabling Inclusion – A Novel Approach in Early Intervention. Plenary Session Presented at Indo-Canadian Conference on Disability Rights and Rehabilitation. Manipal Academy of Higher Education. March 11, 2021. Presented by: Mr.Sankar Sahayraj.
  12. Enabling Local Provision of Assistive Technology; A Survey of needs, Barriers and Facilitators. Poster Presented at Indo-Canadian Conference on Disability Rights and Rehabilitation. Manipal Academy of Higher Education. March 11, 2021. Presented by: Ms.Marie Brien.
  13. Integrating the ICF, Family Centered care and Community based rehabilitation in rural South India: The Enabling Inclusion App & Model.”  Poster Presented at Indo-Canadian Conference on Disability Rights and Rehabilitation. Manipal Academy of Higher Education. March 12, 2021. Presented by: Ms.Marie Brien.
  14. Parent Whatsapp groups connect families in a community based program in rural South India: A pilot Study”. Poster Presented at Indo-Canadian Conference on Disability Rights and Rehabilitation. Manipal Academy of Higher Education. March 12, 2021. Presented by: Ms.Navamani Venkatachalapathy.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact Dinesh Krishna