Introducing Chartered Physiotherapist & Expert Witness, Katharine Atkin... I recently...
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I qualified as a Physiotherapist in 2000 from Huddersfield University and have since developed a broad knowledge and skill base. Initially completing a sound junior rotation in all core areas of physiotherapy, I have specialised in upper limb and reconstructive surgery for the last 19 years. I am now an extended scope clinical specialist physiotherapist in the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust Hands, Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery unit. I am proud to lead in such an innovative therapy team. In our unit we manage all surgical disorders of peripheral nerves and are a tertiary referral centre with what is estimated to be the largest cohort of peripheral nerve lesions in the country. As a result of my work in this unit I have extensive knowledge of upper limb and hand reconstructive procedures i.e. complex fracture fixation, flaps and grafts, tendon repair, nerve repair, nerve transfer, free functional muscle transfer and replantation. Along with the implications for functional rehabilitation and potential hand related dysfunction in these patients.
I carry a large caseload of patients who have sustained brachial plexus injury, at birth, (obstetric brachial palsy /Erb's' palsy) or through trauma in adulthood. My work with these patients following nerve surgery is endorsed by some of the leading surgeons in the field. I support clinicians, present research, and publish in this subject in the UK and internationally.
In my current role, I work alongside consultant colleagues in clinic, reviewing adult and paediatric patients following trauma and those pursuing elective surgery. I make the necessary clinical decisions to optimise their recovery. I triage all orthopaedic upper limb trauma sent to our unit and run my own independent clinics to ensure patients’ needs are met in a timely manner and I run therapy led clinics on a weekly basis as well as providing support and expertise to my hand therapy teams. I have a sound knowledge of assistive equipment and small aids to facilitate independence in personal care and domestic tasks with this client group and considerable experience in the identification of care needs related to hand injuries, Erb's' palsy and brachial plexus injuries. I am regularly required to write detailed clinical reports to partner organisations to facilitate the provision of patient care, this frequently requires liaison with case managers regarding patients’ progress and return to function. I work closely with both the specialist Orthopaedic Hand Surgeons and the Plastics Surgeons involved. The teaching I receive from them is broad and thorough, and this further enhances my clinical reasoning and assessment skills. Such work also ensures I am up to date with current thinking and advances in treatment techniques and technology. I frequently work in conjunction with the Clinical Psychology team and maintain close links with the unit’s Clinical Psychologist, as the psychological implications of trauma in this client group are vast and often have a significant impact upon treatment and outcome of rehabilitation.
I am a valued member of the British Association of Hand Therapy and attend and lecture on the subject on a regular basis. I have undertaken training in medico legal report writing. 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 the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to Expert Witnesses.