Congratulations to Jessica Thurston, Somek & Associates' Chief Operating Officer and...
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BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, MSc Clinical Research, Management Level 4 NVQ
I qualified as an Occupational Therapist from Ulster University in 1994 and following a rotational role in a large Belfast teaching hospital, I moved into a school/community paediatric post. I have worked within paediatric occupational therapy since then and I have worked within the NHS, commercial, charity and private sectors.
In Northern Ireland, health and social care is integrated, so I gained experience in school-based assessment, treatment planning and intervention, and equipment provision; equipment provision for home and recommendations for housing adaptations; and clinic-based assessment, treatment planning and intervention, both for clinic sessions and home therapy programmes. During the 10 years I spent within the NHS, I worked with children aged 0-19 with a range of physical and/or developmental disabilities, developing expertise in cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorder.
In 2005, I became the first allied health professional in the UK to undertake a knowledge transfer partnership, working with a local equipment manufacturer and Ulster University. As part of this process, in 2008 I attained a Master of Clinical Research degree and won regional and national awards for the innovative research which investigated seating assessment for children with physical disabilities. Upon completion of the partnership, I continued to work for the manufacturer, using the research evidence to inform product development, clinical marketing materials and training programmes. I became an expert in seating assessment and prescription, particularly for children with cerebral palsy, and provided training to colleagues across the UK, US, Europe and Australasia. I also held the role of Chairperson of the national Posture and Mobility Group for six years during this time.
I started my independent practice in 2017, specialising in family-centred intervention for children and young people with learning, physical or sensory impairments throughout (but not limited to) Northern Ireland. Clinical conditions include cerebral palsy, developmental co-ordination disorder and autism spectrum disorder. I am skilled at comprehensive assessment and providing succinct reports with recommendations for equipment, adaptations, and strategies for managing sensory difficulties at home and school. I also create and deliver training courses to parents, teachers and childminders, as well as lecturing to design, occupational therapy and nursing students on topics such as special seating, outcome measures, night-time positioning and sensory processing.
I accept instructions from both claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses.