Dr Rachel Stockley

Senior Research Fellow at University of Central Lancashire

Dr Rachel Stockley is a Physiotherapist and Associate Professor in Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation and part of the Stroke Research Team at UCLan.

Dr Stockley told us about her work, achievements, what she’s most proud of and why innovation is so important in her sector:

“My work centres on how we can improve rehabilitation for people who have had a stroke. As well as being an academic, I am a physiotherapist and have seen first-hand how much a positive impact rehabilitation can have upon someone’s life. Advances in medical treatments mean that more and more people survive a stroke and underlines the need for rehabilitation to maximise recovery so that stroke survivors can do the things that matter to them. My current projects centre upon how we can use technologies in rehabilitation after stroke – there is so much potential in technologies but we have to harness this by knowing how to use the right technologies at the right time for the right reasons.

“The stroke research team at UCLan has an international reputation for producing high quality, impactful research that makes a real difference to people who have a stroke and those that care for them. I feel very lucky to be part of such a friendly, productive and dynamic team here in the North West.

“My work brings together digital industries, healthcare organisations, clinicians and people living with stroke – and those that care for them – to explore how we can use existing technologies more widely and design useful new technologies that will become adopted in clinical practice.

“In healthcare, clinicians informally innovate constantly; the clinicians I talk to are always looking for ways to do things better for their patients. I think more formal innovation has become harder in some areas of healthcare because of other constraints but I see a huge willingness from both technology producers, healthcare leaders and the intended users (clinicians and patients) to work together innovatively.

“My most proud professional achievement so far was being awarded a UK Research and Innovation Future Leader Fellowship which effectively funds my work for several years and supports my growth to become a leader in my field. To be given the support and freedom to pursue an ambitious and innovative programme of research that I believe will make a difference was an amazing moment, and wasn’t something I expected as these awards are very competitive and I am one of the first physiotherapists get one. It also wasn’t just about me – I felt that it recognised all those that have supported me professionally and personally, and who shared my vision for what this work could do in practice.

“I feel very fortunate to be a woman in my sector. I am surrounded by great women who are supportive and inspiring and have always encouraged me to chart my own course. I also am supported by several men who recognise that the routes for women, and particularly for professions like physiotherapy where innovation and research have not traditionally been a big part of the job, are not always straightforward. I also love being a woman from the North – being northern is part of my identity, and it is something that I take with me wherever I go, for better or worse! I think there is a perception that lots of things happen in London and other parts of the country; whilst that is true, there is a lot happening up North too. Historically, the great cities of the North have led innovation in many fields and I think that a culture of innovation continues to this day. Now more than ever, I think technologies enable us to work much more collaboratively with colleagues both nationally and globally, which can only be a good thing. I believe that thinking innovatively is vital to tackle the really difficult problems we face, and in my view, the more people we can bring together to do that, the better the outcome will be.

You can follow Rachel on X (formerly Twitter) at @rachel_stockley and UCLAN Research at @UclanResearch. To learn more about her team’s current research here visit www.advancingrehab.com


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