Dr Karen Thomas has been a member of the Primary Care Unit for 5 years, progressing from doctoral student to research associate and HEE/ICA clinical academic fellow. She is a specialist neurological physiotherapist and aspires to forge a path for other young clinical academics to follow, soon after qualifying clinically. She has published several papers on post-stroke fatigue during her doctorate programme and has three others in preparation. She has been involved in a working group looking at the role of allied healthcare professionals in reducing inequalities and also continues work with her prior university department looking at the use of aquatic treadmill intervention for brain blood flow after stroke.
Prior to starting her PhD within the University of Cambridge Primary Care and Public Health department, Karen attained an undergraduate degree in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences and an MSc in Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham. During her undergraduate degree, she worked with Professor Neil Walsh developing a novel non-invasive biomarker of immunity, studying the effect that a period of sustained exercise training would have upon it. Her masters research followed on from her growing interest in clinical neurological populations, carrying out a pilot study utilising aquatic treadmill training in community dwelling stroke survivors. She completed her PhD studies under Professor Jonathan Mant, Head of the PCU Cardiovascular Group, investigating understanding and management of post stroke fatigue, taking a multi-agency approach. She is continuing to conduct research in this area alongside her clinical role and hopes to go on to an Advanced Lectureship Fellowship whilst maintaining clinical progression.
Karen is interested in expanding the current research base examining the long term needs of stroke survivors. She aims to identify and build upon the under-developed areas of patient care that stroke survivors and their families place value upon. Through engaging with health care professionals, stroke survivors and their families she hopes to provide a holistic understanding which could inform future primary care practice.
Karen was successful in being selected for the East of England HEE/ICA postdoctoral bridging fellowship which aims to progress the clinical academic careers of promising postdoctoral researchers. She also attained the Malati Kanbur Studentship in Stroke and the Elderly for her PhD research, associated with membership of Lucy Cavendish College. She has submitted several top scoring conference abstracts, won a best abstract award and sat upon a specialist panel at the UK Stroke Forum. She has also reviewed several papers for Clinical Rehabilitation, a highly regarded journal in her field.