Dr Suzanne Ackerley
Suzanne is a Senior Research Fellow within our Stroke Research Team, with a PhD in promoting upper limb recovery after stroke. Her primary research interests focus on improving outcomes for people with neurological conditions and implementation of evidenced-based interventions in clinical settings. Her research is informed by her experience as a neurological physiotherapist.
Suzanne is engaged in collaborative projects that aim to increase access and intensity of neurorehabilitation. Her work has contributed to tangible and impactful outcomes, including the development and implementation of the NeuroRehabilitation OnLine (NROL) innovation and the PREP2 prediction tool, with both acknowledged within the National Clinical Guidelines for Stroke for the United Kingdom and Ireland 2023. Suzanne is the Senior Development Manager for our Lancashire Institute For Applied Health and Wellbeing Research and Knowledge Exchange (LIFE) which supports the development of high-quality interdisciplinary research, building research capacity and capability.
Suzanne works as a clinical academic, actively combining her research career with her clinical experience. She is a registered physiotherapist in both the UK and New Zealand with advanced knowledge in the neurological and rehabilitation fields. Following qualification as a physiotherapist from the University of Otago (New Zealand) in 2000, she predominantly worked within neurological rehabilitation. In 2006, driven by a passion for promoting evidence-based practice, she pursued her PhD, successfully completing a doctorate in Sport and Exercise Science (Neuroscience) at the University of Auckland.
Her research titled "Promoting use-dependent plasticity to improve upper limb recovery after stroke" aimed to enhance the understanding and application of novel stroke rehabilitation strategies and was supported by a W & B Miller Postgraduate Scholarship from the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand. Suzanne gained post-doctoral research experience in stroke rehabilitation during her time as a Clinical Neuroscience Research Fellow at the University of Auckland (2012 – 2020). After relocating to the UK, she assumed the role of Research Fellow in Rehabilitation at UCLan (2020 – 2023).
In her current position as a Senior Research Fellow here, she continues to integrate her professional knowledge and skills into her research projects. With an honorary contract with East Lancashire NHS Hospital Trust (2020 – present) and successful local and international collaborative partnerships (Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Stroke and Neurorehabilitation Delivery Network, University of Auckland, University of British Columbia), she works on projects alongside clinicians and patients to improve patient outcome and increase allied health professional research interest and engagement.
- PhD (Sport and Exercise Science), University of Auckland, NZ, 2011
- BPhty (Distinction), University of Otago, NZ 2000
- Ruth Young Award for Research Implementation Finalist awarded for Neurorehabilitation Online project, North-West Coast Research and Innovation awards, 2019
- Stroke and neurological rehabilitation
- Complex interventions
- Implementation research
- HCPC registered physiotherapist (PH123676)
- Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand registered physiotherapist (70-07463)
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