Barbara A. Wilson qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1977 and since 1979 she has worked in Brain Injury Rehabilitation, first at Rivermead Rehabilitation Centre in Oxford, then at Charing Cross Hospital, London and at The University of Southampton Medical School. Since 1990, she has been employed as a Senior Scientist at The Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge.
In 1996, she established The Oliver Zangwill Centre for Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Ely, which is founded on a partnership between East Cambs and Fenland Primary Care Trust (formerly Lifespan) and the Medical Research Council. Dr. Wilson is Director of Research at this centre. She is also visiting professor of Rehabilitation Studies at the University of Southampton.
Barbara Wilson specializes in helping people with non-progressive brain injury to compensate for cognitive difficulties and cope in everyday life. She believes in combining research with clinical practice and her research is in three main areas:
- The development of new assessment techniques to measure the everyday problems of people with brain injury. In this capacity Barbara Wilson has published several tests including: The Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test, The Behavioural Inattention Test, The Behavioural Assessment of The Dysexecutive Syndrome, and The Wessex Head Injury Matrix.
- The development of new treatment techniques to help reduce the everyday problems of people with brain injury. In this area Dr. Wilson has published several studies on errorless learning to help people with memory problems learn more efficiently and has also evaluated NeuroPage, a paging system to help memory impaired people cope with everyday tasks.
- The nature of recovery of people who have sustained a severe injury to the brain. Here Barbara is interested in patterns of recovery after brain injury, recovery from posttraumatic amnesia, and recovery in people who are unaware of their surroundings for long periods of time. Barbara Wilson has published 16 books, mostly on rehabilitation, 7 widely-used neuropsychological tests, and over 250 journal articles and chapters, again mostly on rehabilitation.
Barbara is the Editor of the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation (established in 1990); sits on several national committees; and has been on the governing board of The International Neuropsychological Society. Dr. Wilson lectures throughout the world, particularly in Europe, North and South America, Australia, and Hong Kong.
In 1984, she was awarded The May Davidson Award for outstanding contributions to Clinical Psychology within 10 years of qualification. In 1998, she was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours List for services to medical rehabilitation. In 2000 she was awarded a Distinguished Scientist Award from the British Psychological Society; in 2002, she was awarded the Professional of the Year award by The Encephalitis Society; and in 2003 she won The British Psychological Society’s annual Book of the Year Award for her book 'Case Studies in Neuropsychological Rehabilitation'.
In 2004, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from The University of East Anglia. She is a Fellow of The British Psychological Society, The Academy of Medical Sciences and The Academy of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences.