Professor of Psychology
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Neurorehabilitation, neuropsychology, motivation, addiction
Professor Powell is a chartered clinical psychologist with dual specialisms in addictions and neuropsychological rehabilitation. Between 1989 and 2002 she held clinical appointments in the Drug Dependence Unit at the Bethlem Hospital and the Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit at Homerton Hospital, where she set up and ran a community-based brain injury rehabilitation team. Her current academic appointment enables her to carry out research into theoretical and clinical issues within both her specialist areas, and she continues to serve as clinical director of the community-based brain injury rehabilitation team at Homerton Hospital. She also acts as advisor to the Blackheath Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre (BBIRCNS) run by the Huntercombe Group. Building on this link, Goldsmiths and BBIRCNS have developed a flourishing collaborative partnership, co-funding a full-time academic post to support a programme of mutually interesting research and a very successful Masters programme in Cognitive and Clinical Neuropsychology.
In addition she provides clinical supervision to practising neuropsychologists at the Homerton Hospital, and regularly act as an expert witness in medicolegal cases of brain injury resulting from accidents, assaults, and clinical negligence.
BA(Oxon) MPhil PhD ClinPsychol
Professor Powell and her team are investigating the involvement of brain reward circuitry in recreational use of and addiction to substances such as opiates, alcohol and nicotine using a combination of cognitive, behavioural, and genetic methodologies. She was awarded a grant from the US National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to carry out a prospective study of the effects of nicotine and abstinence/cessation in smokers; several publications have emanated from this study, showing that acute abstinence is associated with deficits of incentive motivation and response inhibition, and that the severity of these deficits predicts short-term success in maintaining abstinence. Her other work in this area has received funding from the UK research councils and the Wellcome Trust.
Much of Professor Powell's research is focused on outcomes and rehabilitation after brain injury. For several years she worked in the in-patient Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit [RNRU] at Homerton Hospital, and in 1992 she (along with the consultant neurologist, Dr. Richard Greenwood) established a new community-based multidisciplinary Outreach Team which works with brain-injured adults in their own homes and workplaces to increase their independence and social functioning. They were awarded a share of central government funding allocated for the development of ‘model services’ in this field, and additionally secured an MRC grant to evaluate the efficacy of the service via a randomised controlled trial. It proved clinically effective in increasing clients’ independence, and Professor Powell continues as its clinical director, chairing its fortnightly review meetings and serving on its steering group.
In collaboration with clinical and academic colleagues, she also developed questionnaires to measure outcomes after brain injury and the effectiveness of rehabilitative interventions; these include the Brain Injury Community Rehabilitation Outcome [BICRO] scales and the Quality of Life after Brain Injury [QOLIBRI] questionnaire. They have been employed in several studies evaluating recovery after sub-arachnoid haemorrhage and traumatic brain injury, and have been adopted for clinical use by numerous community-based teams in the UK and other countries.
Content last modified: 28 Sep 2013
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