Alex Penfold on Youth Mental Health Day 2023: Insights from a Mental Health Nurse and...
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I graduated as a physiotherapist in South Africa in 2000 and spent a year working there with both children and adults in acute and community settings. This gave me a basic foundation of neuro-rehabilitation, respiratory and orthopaedic physiotherapy experience. In 2002, I moved to the United Kingdom and began working with adults and young people with complex neurological disorders and also post acute brain injury. During this time, I developed a special interest in working with children with cerebral palsy; congenital neurological disorders; and the early assessment and intervention of babies and ex- preterm babies. I have worked solely in paediatrics since 2004.
I currently run Physio Baby Ltd, which I created in 2014, an independent paediatric physiotherapy company that provides domiciliary treatment for children with neurological, musculoskeletal and respiratory conditions. Although a small percentage of my caseload is musculoskeletal and respiratory cases, my work now is mostly comprised of the assessment and treatment of children with neurological disorders: both acquired, for example cerebral palsy and post traumatic brain injury; and congenital including neurometabolic, genetic and seizure disorders. Part of my caseload is made up of the early intervention of babies with developmental delay.
From 2014 until 2016, I worked part time in an NHS Child Development Centre where I gained experience of working in mainstream and special schools, as well as contributing to Education and Health Care Plans. I then attended a course on expert witness report writing and now carry a small caseload of EHCP appeal reporting. From 2004 until 2014, I have worked solely with children, from newborn to the age of 16 years. This was in a hospital setting, providing neurodevelopmental therapy and respiratory treatment. I gained experience working as part of a multi disciplinary team in the assessment and treatment of these children and providing home exercise programs. I also worked alongside biomedical engineers in the prescription of postural management equipment, including specialised seating, standing frames and mobility equipment. During this time, I completed a number of postgraduate courses including the Bobath Neurodevelopmental Therapy Courses for the assessment and treatment of children with cerebral palsy, (both the 8 week Foundation Course and the Advanced courses). I also registered with the special interest groups for paediatric physiotherapists and the Bobath Association.
Throughout each year, I attend a number of external training courses to ensure I maintain my professional development and continue to meet with the requirements of the HCPC. Among these have been courses on the management of altered tone, serial casting and splinting; gait analysis and orthotics; Ponsetti management of club foot; and of course, annual mandatory training. I also attempt to remain up to date in physiotherapy developments by undertaking self directed learning and reading current research in my interest fields. I am fluent in Afrikaans in addition to English.
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.