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Focus on Scotland - Autumn 2013

Spinal cord injury therapist achieves top industry accolade following Irwin Mitchell nomination

An inspirational occupational therapist, who has helped transform the lives of patients dealing with the most debilitating spinal cord injuries, has won a national award from the Spinal Injuries Association Women in Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI) for her outstanding work.

Leslie Wallace, who has worked at the Queen Elizabeth Spinal Unit in Glasgow for 15 years, achieved one of 10 ‘Outstanding Women 2013’ awards presented to NHS specialists who work in spinal cord injury centres across the UK, following a nomination from Elaine Russell a partner and serious injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Glasgow office.

The serious injury team at Irwin Mitchell has known Leslie for a number of years and nominated her for the top accolade after seeing first-hand, her dedication to helping people whose lives have been shattered by a spinal cord injury regain their independence and confidence. She was presented the award at a national awards ceremony held at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, hosted by Gary Lineker.

Elaine Russell said: “We are thrilled Leslie has won an award at the Spinal Injury Association’s WISCI Awards – she is truly an outstanding woman who has helped transform the lives of people coming to terms with a spinal cord injury with her innovation, professionalism and passion.”

Leslie has also been instrumental in using functional electrical stimulation (FES) as a regular form of treatment from initial injury following a cervical injury and advocating others to follow suit. Tendon transfer surgery is an option to improve some paralysed upper limbs (UL’s) and hands. At the Queen Elizabeth Spinal Unit, the Scottish National Spinal Injuries Unit, this service is offered to suitable candidates. It is Leslie’s job to assist in identifying these candidates as well as carrying out the assessments, both pre and post operatively. She carries out all of the post operative treatment programmes ensuring that strict protocols required are adhered, to ensure maximum benefit is gained from these procedures.

Leslie, from Glasgow, said: “I was thrilled and very honoured to win this award from the Spinal Injuries Association. It has been one of the highlights of my career so far. I’m so grateful to Elaine for nominating me and to the other people who supported my nomination.

“I hope the awards help raise awareness about the issues people who have suffered a spinal cord injury face to regain a sense of independence, confidence and start to feel like they have some control over their lives again. It can take many years, and a lot of determination, and that’s why it’s so important that people continue to support charities such as The Back Up Trust and Spinal Injuries Association who compliment the work I do.”

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