Diarmuid's Physiotherapy training and experience
I trained as a physiotherapist in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and graduated in 1995. Since that time I have had varied and interesting clinical experience in Ireland, Australia, and (for most of my career) London. I am a specialist in complex and persistent (also known as chronic) pain. I have expertise in musculoskeletal care (being eligible for MACP), outcomes, digital delivery and tech applications in pain care.
Clinical: I am currently a consultant physio for Leva pain management clinic. I was lead physio at the Pain Management Centre, University College London Hospitals for over 16 years (a large multi professional specialised pain clinic). This is where I honed my pain management skills working with a diverse range of people attending the centre for help with their pain conditions as well as working with a range of other health care professionals.
I have a wealth of experience working with people who live with chronic pain both as their physiotherapist, and also as colleagues in the various advocacy and co-production roles I do. I have significant experience with complex pain conditions including working with people who have Chronic Primary Pain (CPP), Fibromyalgia, Widespread pain conditions, CRPS, hEDS and hyper-mobility spectrum disorder (HSD), Facial Pain, Pelvic pain, and Functional Neurological conditions. I am an advanced clinical practitioner physiotherapist and independent prescriber (this means I undertook additional training for 6 months in university to qualify in prescribing medication for pain; more information an be found on prescribing physiotherapists here).
Research: I have published in peer reviewed journals in topics related to chronic pain and including psychologically informed practice (which basically means drawing upon skills related to communication and awareness of thoughts and emotions and how they are relevant with all physical health conditions including pain), systematic reviews of several types, and book chapters.
I am currently doing a PhD (part time) at Brunel University (Economic and Social Research Council Fellowship awardee). My research topic is persisting pain and it explores the space/place between receiving healthcare (treatment) and living with pain using liminality as a lens. I am doing this research with people living with pain using participatory action research methods. I previously completed NIHR pre-doctoral fellowship. I am interested in clinical-academic roles for physiotherapists, and in psychologically informed practice.
Education: I have considerable experience in education including teaching multi-professional groups. I have experience teaching in degree and masters programmes at Brighton, University College London, and Brunel universities. I developed and ran a module for the UCL MSc in pain for two years called Strategies for the Self-Management of Pain. I have been invited to speak at both national and international conferences in topics related to pain management.
I was previously a lecturer-practitioner at London South Bank University. I currently co-teaches the Live Well with Pain 10 footsteps programme to multi-professional groups. I facilitate peer reflecting sessions on behalf of the Physiotherapy Pain Association (PPA) supporting clinicians to develop their communication skills. I am also trained in Narrative medicine/Conversations Inviting Change. I led on development of a co-produced Psychologically informed collaborative conversations training programme (PIC-C) for health care professionals.
Leadership: I led a large physio team at a large multi-professional secondary/tertiary care service. I represented physiotherapy and pain in many committees. Until 2023 I was chair and then co-chair of the Physiotherapy Pain Association (PPA), an organisation for physiotherapists with a special interest in pain in the UK. I was a committee member for the NICE chronic pain guidelines (NG193), and committee member of CRPS UK. I also led on development of accreditation credentialing and advanced practice roles for physios in MSK and pain settings in secondary/tertiary care.
I am passionate about advocacy and involvement and I am a committee member of the Footsteps Festival, a co-produced collective of people who live with and/or work with people who live with pain, providing free online events and support for those with pain. I am also a member of Livewell pain, supporting clinicians and people living with pain, and the Global Alliance of Partners for Pain Advocacy (GAPPA) which is creating partnerships between people with lived experience of pain, patient advocates, researchers, and clinicians around the world, to advance the study, understanding, and treatment of pain.