“I’ve been a neurological Occupational Therapist (OT) for 29 years and continue to learn every day. The beauty of Occupational Therapy as a career is the variety and diversity of roles that you can work in. Neurological Rehabilitation wasn’t my first choice when I first came to Newcastle for a rotational post all those years ago. I wanted to work in Community Mental Health Services but after a few weeks working in a neuro-rehab unit I was hooked.
Over the years my role has changed. But what is important to me is that I keep my clinical contact. Working alongside my patients, providing support, sharing their worries and enabling them to regain some independence continues to be my passion. Neurological conditions have an impact on all aspects of a person’s life. The way they see, hear, touch, smell, taste, move, feel, where they live, if they can work or drive, care for their children or even manage their own basic hygiene tasks.
My role is quite diverse. Clinically I work within a Spasticity Management Team. Along with my colleagues I work with patients to identify if they have spasticity (involuntary muscle tightness) which is impacting on their daily lives. This may mean that it is difficult to open their hand for hygiene, sit comfortably, walk efficiently etc. As part of the assessment we discuss their worries, their priorities and their needs and develop a plan of how we can start to make a difference.
Following assessment part of my treatment is provision of individualised hand splints to help keep their hand open. I also work alongside a Hand and Plastic Surgeon to help those whose hand has become very tight and fixed. I have written a number of papers which have been published, spoken at National Conferences and been involved in the development of National Guidelines.
I am also the Professional Lead for the Neurological Occupational Therapists working within CNTW. Within this role I provide supervision, direction, strategic opinion and encouragement to promote what we do and to maintain excellent services.
I am also the Neuro AHP (Allied Health Professional) Research Champion, providing support and advice for therapists to get involved in audit, service evaluation and research projects. This means I am also heavily involved in all of these activities too.
Being an Occupational Therapist is a challenge, but it is a rewarding, interesting and humbling profession. I have been honoured to be involved, in a small part, in my patients’ lives and their meaningful occupations.”