Nicola Hancock


  • 1.13 Queens Building

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Stroke Rehabilitation; recovery of walking after stroke and other Acquired Brain Injury; NHS service evaluation and improvement

Personal profile


Dr Nicola Hancock is Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Innovation, APVC-I, at UEA.

She qualified as a Physiotherapist from the University of East London in 1992, with a first-class BSc (Hons) and clinical distinctions.  She was awarded the Joan Piercy prize for student of the year on graduation. Nicola worked clinically at Addenbrooke’s hospital Cambridge and at the QEH, Kings Lynn as a highly specialist clinical therapist and team leader in neurology, before moving to UEA and completing her PhD

Nicola has worked both nationally and regionally to develop stroke rehabilitation services, representing physiotherapy on the Royal College of Physicians Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party (2005-2019) and co-authored three sets of National Clinical Guidelines for Stroke (2008, 2012, 2016) She was National Hon Chair of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology (ACPIN) 2004-2008. In 2016, Nicola was awarded a Fellowship of ACPIN in recognition of her career-long commitment to advancing neurorehabilitation practice.

Key Research Interests

Principle research interests include:

1) investigating activity that might promote recovery of coordinated, functional lower limb movement early after stroke onset and characterising movement patterns to enable rehabilitation strategies to be targeted appropriately

2) personalised approaches to rehabilitation in stroke and brain injury, including evaluation of supported self-management and technology enabled delivery.

3) co-development of innovative technologies for rehabilitation

Nicola's PhD was titled: Investigations into the potential for using Reciprocal Pedalling Exercise to assess, measure and enhance lower limb function after stroke. Supervisory team: Professor Valerie Pomeroy and Professor Lee Shepstone (UEA) with Professor Phil Rowe (University of Strathclyde)

Post-doctorally, Nicola won a place on the Design Council Design Mentoring Programme, supported by a successful application for £15,000 Proof of Concept monies from UEA. She is working with a team at UEA, the Design Council Associate and a Design Agency of the development of a device to retrain walking early after stroke. This work has been awarded Norwich Research Park Translational funding (£40,450: November 2015) with further impact funding from UEA in 2017, followed by an Innovation Development grant (£84,000) in 2019.

Nicola led the  HEEoE-funded quality improvement evaluation (£150,000; 2019-20) to support the implementation of the "Bridges" sustainable model of integrating self-management support across stroke and neurological rehabilitation services in the East of England. She is a member of the international 'ViaTherapy' working party, the team produced an app to enable therapists to rapidly access best evidence for upper limb rehabilitation after stroke. 

Nicola has collaborated with the University of Nottingham and the National Clinical Lead for stroke rehabilitation on the Qualitative Service Evaluation of the National Integrated Community Stroke Rehabilitation Pilots (StRiPE) for NHS England, reported Spring 2023. 

She is currently (2023/4) leading an evaluation of stroke telerehabilitation services in the East of England for NHS England,East (£74,786). Disemination of findings from this work will begin in late 2023.


Teaching Interests

Nicola teaches neurological rehabilitation, innovation and research across both the BSc and Pre-Reg MSc Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy programs at UEA.

Expert Consultancy, Contract work and Peer Review:

Nicola reviews and advises on key national documents including the National Stroke Strategy (2007, update 2017) and was a member of the priority setting partnership for stroke research, hosted by the Stroke Association (2021/22). Her role on the RCP Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party involved participating in the development of National Stroke Audits as part of SSNAP, the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme; and contributing to the writing of the internationally renowned National Clinical Guidelines for Stroke.

Nicola co-led the national co-production project that led to the development and writing of the now published Advanced Clinical Practice Credential specification for neurorehabilitation including stroke- (NHS England, £80,000, 2020-22). This work will directly inform NHS workforce development.

Nicola sits on the scientific committee of the European Life After Stroke Forum, ELAS, (2023-)

Peer review has been carried out for the Stroke Association research grant awards committee, and of research papers submitted to Physiotherapy Research International, Health & Quality of Life Outcomes, BMC Health Services Research, Physiotherapy, Frontiers in Neurology, Disability and Rehabilitation. Nicola was a member of the critical review group for the Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland consensus statement on use of electrical stimulation following stroke (2014).


Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of East Anglia

Award Date: 1 Jan 2014

External positions

Scientific Committee Member, European Life After Stroke Forum

5 Jul 2023 → …

Research Strategy Group member, INPA: International Neurological Physical Therapy Association

Oct 2020 → …

Member of the Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party, Royal College of Physicians


Chair, Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology

Mar 2004Mar 2008


  • Sports Medicine, Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation
  • Stroke
  • Neurological Rehabilitation
  • motor recovery
  • Movement Science

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or