Jessica Thurston, Chief Operating Officer at Somek and Associates, has recently had an article...
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BSc (Hons) Speech & Language Therapy, Full Member of Expert Witness Institute (MEWI)
I qualified in 2003 from the University College London (UCL). From the outset, I took an interest in the field of neurological disorders (including brain injury, stroke and dementia) and critical medical conditions (tracheostomy care).
I have worked within acute, rehabilitation and community settings, assessing and treating individuals with communication, swallow and cognitive disorders. I have held specialist posts at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital as the lead therapist for dysphagia (swallow disorders), at the Alderbourne Rehabilitation Unit as the lead in neuro-rehabilitation and for the North West Surrey community as a stroke specialist.
I currently work as a clinical specialist at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, treating individuals who sustain catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries. I work within a highly specialist multi-disciplinary team and lead the specialist provision for patients with complex swallow difficulties, cognitive deficits, tracheostomy needs and those that require assistive technology devices to support communication. The patients admitted to the hospital arrive from various global destinations and it is often necessary to facilitate different languages and culture as well as the injury itself.
I have been working as a medico-legal expert witness with Somek & Associates since 2010 and have taken regular instructions from both Claimant and Defendant Solicitors. I am fully aware of my responsibilities under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses. I took on the role as associate trainer in 2016 and since have helped the development and training of the expert speech and language therapy team.
I have been completing online clinical assessments and therapy practices for over five years to support patients who cannot access specialist swallow and communication services. I am regularly using a range of online platforms, including video conferencing and published tests tailored to the patient’s needs. I have used this approach successfully in my clinical and medico-legal practice.