Meet Dr David Abankwa – Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine and Medical Expert Witness
26 January 2020
Dr David Abankwa, MB ChB, MSc, FRCP Edin, is a Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine based at Swansea Bay University Health Board in Neath Port Talbot Hospital, South Wales.
Dr Abankwa leads a multi-disciplinary team on the specialist Neurological Rehabilitation Unit looking after patients with conditions including traumatic brain injury, sub-arachnoid haemorrhage and neuro-inflammatory conditions. He runs outpatient Neurological Rehabilitation and Spasticity clinics and also works in the community, seeing patients who are unable to attend clinic at home and in care homes in the region.
Dr Abankwa runs an Amputee Rehabilitation clinic based in Morriston Hospital, Swansea which provides specialist services for people who have suffered a major limb amputation living all over South West Wales.
Dr Abankwa is passionate about developing clinical services and expanding provision for patients requiring specialist neurorehabilitation. He tells us, “I have been involved in setting up a thriving Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) service in Swansea and have helped set up Neurological Rehabilitation clinics in West Wales”.
Dr Abankwa is the Chair and a founding member of the South West Wales Brain Injury Group (SWWBIG), a not-for-profit group established to provide a forum for individuals with an interest in acquired brain injury (ABI), to educate, increase knowledge of and develop and share good practice about brain injury rehabilitation. Of the group, Dr Abankwa said, “Our regular conferences and activities support people who have suffered an acquired brain injury or work in the sector. Membership is open to all individuals and professionals who are connected in some way to the treatment, care of, or who are, ABI survivors in the local communities of South West Wales.”
A founder member of NRC Medical Experts, Dr Abankwa specialises in providing medico-legal expertise and reports for the courts in cases including brain injury, multiple sclerosis, brain inflammation, spinal cord injury, paraplegia, spinal infarction and tumours, rehabilitation following major limb amputation, management of cerebral palsy, cerebral infections including meningitis/ encephalitis, management and prevention of pressure ulcer formation and management of complex neurological disability.
As a medical expert, Dr Abankwa shares his expertise with solicitors and the courts because he feels his work helps them to understand the reasons why patients present in a certain way following a brain injury. He tells us, “I help solicitors and the courts to try to identify the right resources to help the patient to get the best outcome following their injury or illness. Neurological rehabilitation is right for patients because it helps them to get the best possible outcomes following an injury or illness. In some cases, it helps them to minimise the deficit that occurs after the injury, and in others, it helps them to be able to function at their best despite quite significant neurological deficits.”
Dr Abankwa continues, “My reports offer solicitors an independent opinion about the issues relevant to the case. In some cases, the solicitor may consider an issue to be most relevant, but after reading my report and discussing the case with me, they may then choose to focus on different aspects of the case.”
We asked Dr Abankwa to reflect on his dual role as a medical expert and a rehabilitation consultant. He said, “In my work as the Rehabilitation Consultant working in the NHS, I tend to focus a lot on patients at the acute end of their rehabilitation journey. However, patients that have left an impression on me are those that I’ve had the privilege of working with on a long-term basis.
Those patients who secure a well-funded rehabilitation package - either through litigation or other means - tend to see better outcomes in the long run. This highlights to me the importance of using my expert knowledge to guide solicitors to prioritise the rehabilitation needs of claimants above other considerations.”