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March: Spotlight On An Expert

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Somek & Associates are delighted to introduce chartered physiotherapist & expert witness, Thomas Porter...

I initially looked into becoming a physiotherapist with a sports role in mind. I earnt a place at Nottingham University, and after three years of placements in wide-ranging settings, I realised I found the rehabilitation of regular folk in the NHS setting much more rewarding than sports physio, and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the person behind the condition.

After qualification I started work as a rotational physiotherapist, mainly on the wards at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, before moving into musculoskeletal outpatients.

In 2009 I started an MSc in Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham. As part of this, I undertook research into injury prevention in football players. The research went on to be published in Sports Medicine – Open and has received over 10,000 views, which I’m proud of, though I’d be interested to know how many of those views have been by me. Having completed the research project, I graduated in 2013 and in doing, so became a member of the MACP (Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists).

Shortly after this in 2015, I started a role as a Spinal Physiotherapy Specialist in neurosurgery, where I assessed people with complex spinal presentations who had been referred from GPs. This was a step up in responsibility and the role included liaising closely with neurosurgeons, spinal surgeons and neuroradiologists, and listing for spinal surgery or injections. I enjoyed the challenge, and particularly the multi-disciplinary approach.

In 2017 my partner and I took a career break. We travelled with adventure travel companies on revamped buses and spent many a night camping under the stars in South America, and then in southern and eastern Africa. We were lucky to experience Rio carnival, hike in Patagonia, climb to Maccu Piccu, and to get engaged overlooked by the Moai statues on Easter Island. The Africa trip took us on safaris, and culminated in trekking to see wild gorillas in Uganda.

Shortly after my return a secondment opportunity arose. Even before the pandemic there were challenges in primary care, with reducing numbers of GPs and increasing patient populations. One of the initiatives to address this was to recruit advanced practice clinicians into GP surgeries. I took a role in a pilot First Contact Physiotherapy (FCP) service, seeing patients with musculoskeletal presentations to help free up GP time to see more medical cases. The national pilot was a success and has led on to FCPs working in GP surgeries across the country.

At the end of the secondment, I moved to a new job, which included recruiting, training, and supervising FCPs. I continue to do this and very much enjoy the shared learning from our discussions about cases. I work as an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner and see people with complex musculoskeletal presentations who have been referred from physiotherapists or GPs, and diagnose a wide range of conditions from assessment and use of diagnostics including blood tests, X-rays, MRI and ultrasound scans.

I had a longstanding interest in the medicolegal field, so made an initial enquiry to Somek & Associates. When there was need for a new associate specialising in musculoskeletal physiotherapy I was contacted, however it transpired to be three days before the birth of my son, Jack. After 6 months of nappy changes and night feeds, it felt like the right time to pursue my interest again and I started the training program in 2022.

I’ve enjoyed the new challenge and the opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience in a different field, and have appreciated the training offered by Somek & Associates. I’ve now completed several quantum reports, and have started taking liability cases.

We are actively recruiting expert witnesses across a range of professions. In physiotherapy we are particularly looking for those with a specialist background in cauda equina and spinal injury. To find out more about expert witness opportunities with Somek & Associates click here.