If someone has sustained a traumatic brain injury they will often have very complex and varied needs.
The nature of any disability following brain injury will often be very varied with a complex interplay of symptoms. These symptoms can be physical, cognitive, behavioural, vocational or a combination of these. It is therefore the case that there will be a multitude of different consultants and therapists from a range of different specialities which will be involved in the provision of rehabilitation.
As a consequence it will often be very daunting for any brain injury survivor and their family or carers to negotiate through what can be a minefield with many specialties, professions and sectors being involved in one person’s rehabilitation. The process of rehabilitation can therefore be sometimes disjointed, untimely or lead to inappropriate rehabilitation care and ongoing support for many brain injury survivors.
There are many specialist head injury units in the UK that provide excellent services to those that have sustained brain injuries. However access to such units can be largely dependant on your location within the UK. If there are no suitable NHS units nearby, there may be funding available to go to one run by a private company. It is therefore important that you seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury solicitor as soon as possible to ensure that if a legal claim can be made that access is provided to these services or similar services or therapies privately.
At Thompsons Solicitors we will also work with the treating consultants and therapists and other specialist head injury therapists and experts to ensure that your ongoing care and treatment is as continuous and straightforward as possible.
It is important at this most difficult of times that you are able to gain access to the right kind of help and advice. Indeed rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process and therefore you need to gain access to appropriate rehabilitation as soon as possible. The rehabilitation programme or package should be placed around the individual and not the other way around.
Rehabilitation following a brain injury can take many forms however this could include input from a number of specialists. Indeed you are likely to come into contact with a number of specialists both during your time in hospital and when you return home including:
Nurses are trained in all aspects of general health care and will usually be on hand to assist with dressing, washing, feeding and toileting. A hospital ward will be run by a sister or charge nurse, accompanied by a staff nurse and nursing assistants. Usually you will have access to specialist neurological nurses who have many years of experience in caring for brain injury survivors.
A consultant will normally co-ordinate the day-to-day medical care, carrying out examinations and prescribing medication while you are in hospital. The consultant will be the head of a medical team and will be assisted by junior medical staff such as registrars and house officers, who will normally spend more time on the ward than the consultant.
Speech and Language Therapists
The Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) will normally assist with any difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing. They will normally provide structured exercises to assist with improving speech and language skills both with spoken and written words. They will also normally be able to provide advice on any available communication aids.
The physiotherapist aims to help you recover the ability to use your muscles and joints. Following brain injury muscles may feel weak or very tight with spasms or tremor and any movement may be uncoordinated. There may also be some altered sensation and problems with speech and swallowing. Physiotherapy can therefore help you to walk, sit or stand without losing balance, coordinate your movements, and for you to use more fine movements. The physiotherapist will set exercises and activities for improving your physical ability. Advice and recommendations will also be given on suitable walking aids, home adaptations and equipment.
Occupational therapist’s or OT’s will look at making adaptations to your home, provide aids and equipment and/or help you to develop strategies in order for you to carry out the activities you need and want to do such as dressing, cooking, and housework. This will be with the goal of helping you to develop your own independence in carrying out everyday tasks.
A neurologist is a specialist medical doctor of the central nervous system which includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. He can diagnose and treat any disorders with the central nervous system. A neurologist will usually start any investigations by obtaining a scan of the affected area (usually a CT or MRI Scan) which help them understand the problem. The neurologist will, following assessment, normally be able to identify any problems with balance, reflexes, sensation, muscle strength and movement. They will also provide an indication of any memory, speech, language, and other cognitive abilities. They can, as well as prescribing medication, also advise on treatment and make referrals for specialist therapies.
A neurosurgeon is a specialist surgeon who undertakes operations for a wide range of conditions affecting the central nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and nerves. A neurosurgeon will often deal with any initial life saving or other surgery. As well as spending time in the operating theatre, a neurosurgeon will also be involved attending the hospital ward both before and after any surgery.
The neuropsychologist will help in assessing your mental skills and weaknesses, and try to identify problems with language, learning and memory, and higher level thinking (cognition). They will normally assess the level of any ongoing cognitive difficulties by using specially designed tests which can measure behaviours such as attention, speed of processing, language, learning and memory, reasoning, perception, and motor skills. This can lead to a number of recommendations for further treatment and support. The clinical neuropsychologist will also provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) which allow the person to develop coping strategies to combat any ongoing problems.
Social workers can often be attached to a neurological ward or rehabilitation unit or employed by the local authority. They will be skilled in helping you and your family or carers receive the practical information and support acting as an advocate and a guide for you. They can provide information about welfare benefits, accommodation and transport. Their role will typically involve undertaking a social care assessment and organising and managing packages of care and support. They may often be a member of the Brain Injury Social Work Group, see www.biswg.co.uk.
Long Term Support
Depending on the severity of the brain injury, a number of people require long-term support throughout their lives.
The local authority may well provide some care and support to families and individuals who have sustained a severe head injury. However funding may well be available through your personal injury claim.
The aim of this support is to enable you and your family to live as independently as possible. The level of support will be assessed carefully to try and reflect your long-term needs.
A rehabilitation package will often include those specialists mentioned above together with the following individuals:
Case managers will plan and co-ordinate any rehabilitation, care and support that you may need and your integration back into the community. Normally a case manager will be funded privately out of a personal injury claim. However occasionally the term “case manager” can be used to describe someone fulfilling a similar role within the public sector, especially in community brain injury services. A case manager will usually be a member of an organisation such as the British Association of Brain Injury Case Managers www.babicm.org or Case Management Services UK www.cmsuk.org.
Support workers or “enablers” will usually be employed to give you the support that you need in your home and in the community. This can include providing personal care as well as assisting with prompting or assisting you to organise things for yourself. They will usually be managed by a case manager if provided privately through a personal injury claim. Support workers can also in some instances be employed through the NHS, local authority or privately.
Job coaches will help you look at ways of either returning back to your current employment, or provide training to allow you to work in a new area.
These individuals will try and help you to come to terms with your injury and provide you with help and support that you need in order to lead a fulfilling and independent life.
Our aim at Thompsons Solicitors is make sure that you achieve the best possible outcome following your injury.
Looking for legal advice following serious injury? Chat to one of our specialists today.
Thompsons Solicitors will move swiftly to support you or your loved one to build a case for compensation after catastrophic injury. Our priority is to establish the facts and apply for interim payments as quickly as possible to secure vital funds for treatment and rehabilitation. The aim is to get you, or your loved one, on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
Our committed serious injury specialists secure millions of pounds in damages for seriously injured people each year and are supported by Client Support Coordinators and groups such as the Spinal Injuries Association, Headway and the Limbless Association, to signpost clients to sources of further aid.
If you, or someone you care about, has been catastrophically injured in the last three years contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation with a serious injury expert to discuss your serious injury compensation claim.
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