In the blink of an eye

Hundreds of British adults and children suffer Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) each year, typically due to car accidents. Because there has been a constant improvement in medical technology (from roadside through to the Intensive Care Unit), a higher proportion of victims survive resulting in more long term problems for them and their families. They will experience a range of major problems which have a devastating effect on their lives, these widespread effects are sudden, occurring, literally, in the blink of an eye.

Without extensive, intensive and expertly delivered rehabilitation at the right time the majority of survivors, both children and adults, suffer a long-term loss of daily living skills and require many hours of daily care. There is often a drastically reduced quality of life and inability to return to paid employment or to main-stream education. Underlying these is a range of problems, both cognitive (from memory to perceptual difficulties) and behavioural (including anger, anxiety and depression).

Trauma need not be the last word

Everyone involved with a serious accident will go through some very dark times but with rehabilitation which is at the right time, at the right level of intensity and appropriate to the person's needs their quality of life can be considerably improved.

Residential or Home Based Rehabilitation?

Residential rehab is excellent as a first step and for people who have developed behavioural problems. But a recent study showed that 85% of neuro-patients would prefer rehab at home. When |reach| was established, 16 years ago, rehabilitation for TBI was always residential, often many miles from the patient's family and home. Through companies like |reach| home based rehabilitation (HBR) is available as another option where it has the advantage of involving their families.

|reach| specialises in UK wide hands-on, target orientated, neurological rehabilitation for TBI survivors in their own homes and local community. Each programme is individually tailored to their needs and is provided by experienced regional professionals with local knowledge.

How does HBR help?

HBR has the advantage of providing programmes delivered in the home and community by specialists who provide training in a range of from self-care to cooking. Our focus is to return people to functioning as close to pre-accident levels as possible with particular emphasis on independence. As daily skills are re-learned they can be put into practice immediately in familiar settings and reinforced on a daily basis.

Over the years |reach| has demonstrated that their clients, particularly children, are more self reliant, confident and enjoy a better quality of life. Around 70% return to some type of employment or education.

What about the rest of the family?

The effects of living with a survivor put a great strain on the rest of the family and will tend to make any existing worse and the greater the burden the worse the effect on the rest of the family. About a third of carers give up jobs, relationships break down and they lose friends and social activities. Sometimes family members feel the need to constantly explain or apologise for the changed behaviour of their loved one to friends and neighbours.

Problems can be made worse in the early stages by lack of information on what support is needed and what is available. As time goes by they deny needing help and say "we learned to manage".

But it doesn't have to be like that. At |reach| our programme managers are aware of the needs and difficulties of the family and can offer help with coping and advice on where to go for help.

What should I do next?

At the earliest opportunity talk to your legal advisor or case manager on what options are available to you, either through statutory services or through private companies. Find out about how interim payments can help your family deal with the changes that serious brain injuries will inevitably bring.

Heather Batey Dip COT, SROT
Director
|reach| personal injury services ltd

For more information on Reach, please visit http://www.reachpersonalinjury.com/ or talk to your brain injury solicitor.