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School of Health and Society

Dr Nicola Spence

Programme Leader in MSc Advanced Physiotherapy


I have been a qualified physiotherapist for over 25 years and I still practice clinically to maintain my CPD and currency of my teaching. My areas of clinical practice are neurological rehabilitation and musculoskeletal physiotherapy.

 I have been an academic at Salford University for 20 years and in that time I attained my PGCE in Higher education and became a Fellow of the HEA and in 2018 I became a senior HEA fellow recognising my excellence in delivering the MSc Advanced Physiotherapy to our UK and International audience. 

I also enjoy research and following on from my undergraduate work I studied my MSc in Health Care practice and completed my dissertation in neurological outcome measurement in CVA in 2000. I later completed MRes modules to develop further my research skills and utlised this in my PhD which I studied part time over five years. My PhD was again in CVA and looked at quality of life measurement, which was successfully completed in 2010.  Since 2010 to the present day I maintain my research interest leading group projects related to outcome measurement, neurological stroke rehabilitation and Pilates for low back pain.

I annually supervise typically ten MSc students and PhD students. Past students have a good publication record in the relevant clinical journals to the topic selected and conference presentations.


Historically I have delivered sessions across health care professions to uni-professional and multi-professional groups. I frequently teach on the undergraduate physiotherapy programme across clinical skills sessions, assessment sessions for musculoskeletal joint assessments, research methods, neurology and counselling. At post graduate level I lead core modules on the MSc Advanced Physiotherapy Preparing for research in health (PRIH) I deliver the majority of this research module covering literature searching, critique, project planning, idea development, design, and analysis. I also module lead the Rehabilitation Strategies module (RS) this recently replaced the Neuroscience and neuro rehabilitation module (NSNR) within this module I  explore evolving interventions in neurology, strength training, neuroscience, clinical guidelines critique and student support. I am also module leader for the Research Project (RP) on the MSc which replaced our dissertation module in 2015. In the research project module I organise the group projects, supervision and deliver a taught research week to solve student project problems with design, statistics and literature searching.

Research Interests

I have a keen interest in systematic reviews and primary research in the area of physiotherapeutic practice evaluating clinical effectiveness. Regarding clinical effectiveness I have specific interest in neurological rehabilitation and musculoskeletal rehabilitation in exercise and its evaluation.

Qualifications and Memberships

I am a qualified physiotherapist since 1991 and an active HCPC, CSP & OCPPP member. In my experience as an academic I am a reviewer for three journals Chartered Society of Physiotherapy journal, the Journal of public health, and the Journal of Neuro-rehab and neurological repair.

In my teaching role I have a PGCE in HE from Bolton University in 1999 and I am a Higher Education Academy senior fellow. Member of Institute of Learning and teaching (ILT) since 2001. Winner of the VC teaching excellence award 2014

I have an MSc in health care practice 2000 and a PhD in Stroke and Quality of life measurement ‘Global quality of life measurement incorporating individual perspectives of stroke patients’ rehabilitation.’ 2010.


Location Victoria Hospital Blackpool 1994

Study Comparison of Neurological Assessments and A.D.L.S a Pilot Study.

Results Published in Therapy Weekly 1994


Location B.H.R.V. NHS Trust 1997

Study Comparing patient satisfaction with group/individual[1] treatment                                                             

Findings no difference, awaiting hospital feedback


Location B.H.R.V. NHS Trust 1998

Study Clinical effectiveness of physiotherapy with C.V.A.

Findings physiotherapy is of benefit, awaiting publication


Location B.H.R.V. NHS Trust 1998-2000

Study Efficacy of physiotherapy with chronic C.V.A. pts. Recovery of gait

Findings pending research proposal and ethical approval


Location Staffordshire General, Cannock Chase, Ellesmere Port Hospital & Stone Rehabilitation Centre 2000

Study Correlational study to identify any similarities between physiotherapeutic outcome measure & quality of life measures


Findings therapy outcomes fail to detect quality of life changes


Location Salford Royal NHS Trust

Study development of a quality of life outcome measure suitable for use within stroke rehabilitation

Findings ongoing


Location Salford University 2002

Study methodology and results of a systematic review of quality of life tools

Findings poster and a presentation at the SPARC conference


Location Salford University 2003

Study the theoretical background of quality of life

Findings Presented at the SPARC conference


Location CSP conference 2013

Study results of Systematic review of Quality of Life

Findings displayed as a poster at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy annual congress 2013


Location CSP conference 2015

Study How should physiotherapists appraise clinical outcome measures?

Findings displayed as a poster at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy annual congress 2015


Publication title Nursing and Health Care Research at a Glance - At a Glance (Nursing and Healthcare) Glasper, Alan (EDT)/ Rees, Colin (EDT) 2016 .Wiley Blackwell. London.

Chapter Quality of life

Chapter Kelly’s Repertory Grid 


Location Physical therapy 2018

Study group project  (Polykarpos Nomikos, Nic spence, and Mansour Alshehri)

Test-Retest Reliability of Physiotherapists Using the Action Research Arm Test in Chronic Stroke
Findings the action research arm test (ARAT) is consistent over time