Laura Rowell is an independent expert witness & a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Neurorehabilitation. As an NRC Medical Expert Witness, Laura provides the courts with expert witness reporting and testimony.
With extensive knowledge of working with spinal cord injury patients, mental health, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) patients, Laura has an advanced understanding of complex neurological, physical and mental health conditions with extensive assessment and rehabilitation skills.
After qualifying in 2011 with a BSc (Hons) in physiotherapy, Laura worked as a physiotherapist across a range of NHS Trusts including the orthopaedic and neurological wards of the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle Upon Tyne and with private providers across the North East of England. Whilst working at the RVI, Laura began working with the neurosurgery team, led by Prof Mendelow and joined a research project looking into lower back disc protrusion, this research paper has just been published.
After gaining valuable clinical skills during this time, Laura took a clinical leadership and mentoring role in the Department of Work and Pensions before returning to the NHS in 2018. Working as a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, Laura took the lead on a project to establish and structure a mental health physiotherapy provision across a 154-bed hospital and seven inpatient wards in a new role for the Trust. Going on to then recruit another four physiotherapists to the project, this previously overlooked area of mental health rehabilitation had a life-changing impact on a range of individuals living with mental health conditions as a result of physical health injury.
In 2021, Laura began seeing traumatic brain injury patients privately under her organisation, Back2Life Physiotherapy and developed her Case Management skills with a leading independent provider. Since 2022, Laura has specialised in providing functional physiotherapy for individuals with complex disabilities – a one-to-one bespoke approach which sees physiotherapy input driven by the goals and desired outcomes of the individuals – and her medico-legal practice.
Neuro physiotherapy in practice
Laura explains her approach to neurorehabilitation by illustrating the case of one of her clients (SH).
SH was involved in a serious road traffic incident which led to her requiring cranial reconstructive surgery, she was left with left-sided weakness in her arm and leg. Initially she had to re-learn to walk again and then required the use of a rollator. She was also unable to use her left hand for any functional tasks due to weakness and lack of extension of her fingers. Laura accepted SH as one of her clients and they began to work together weekly with a very intense rehabilitation physiotherapy programme.
Over that period Laura worked very closely to help SH with not only her physical health problems but also her mental health and the trauma of the injury. This involved hydrotherapy sessions, gait and balance pattern training, muscle stretching and strengthening. Functional hand devices were used and SH had to work daily on re-learning how to open her fingers and pick objects up or hold a cup. SH has now regained full use of her left hand and is independently mobile and has the use of a walking stick for longer distances, she has just achieved her goal of being able to go abroad again on holiday. Laura still keeps in contact with SH and is always there to offer support and motivation.
Neuro physiotherapist expert witness
With a long interest in the medico-legal side of neurorehabilitation, Laura began working with NRC Medical Experts in 2022. A member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and Medico-Legal Association for Chartered Physiotherapists (MLACP), Laura is actively undertaking a range of instructions for claimant and defendant solicitors supporting claimants with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and complex neuro disabilities.
Laura explains her passion for her Expert Witness work as follows;
“After many years of experience working with a huge range of health professionals and clients, I understand the impact that complex injury can have on not only the client but also the family and friends. I’m very good at putting the whole picture of an individual’s circumstance together and I always keep an open mind about every client case.
Examining every aspect of care from a multidisciplinary perspective, I provide the Courts with a comprehensive overview of an individual’s prior, current and likely future presentation. For me, communication is key, to visiting the person in their home surroundings and seeing how they are managing everyday functional tasks. it’s a real privilege for these families to let me in to their homes at usually an extremely difficult period as they are trying to adapt to a new way of life. Stepping into someone’s life to understand and detail how an incident has changed their lives and to see what they require for the future, and knowing my report will make a difference to their case – and ultimately to their quality of life – is very rewarding.”
Based in the North West with her family, Laura provides medico-legal expert witness reporting and testimony through NRC Medical Experts across the UK. In her free time, she enjoys an active lifestyle – a regular gym goer and runner, Laura relaxes by walking her Goldendoodles, Cali and Reggie, on St Anne’s Beach in Lytham.