A brain injury is ‘life-changing, not life ending’
Jan Rock is the founder of Matrix Neurological – a new charity that provides holistic neuro-rehabilitation services and practical support to children, young people and their families who are living with the effects of an acquired brain injury.
Isn’t it strange how unpredictable life can be? Just when you think it’s running to plan along comes a curve ball that knocks you down again.
Saturday 28th August 2010 was a sunny bank holiday weekend and my husband and my 16 year old son had gone on a climbing trip to Highcliff Nab in Guisborough, a popular visitor spot. However within half an hour of arriving, my son had fallen 70 feet from the top of the cliff. Doctors described his injuries as ‘the worst they had ever seen’ and considered the complexity and severity of his injuries to be ‘un-survivable’. We were told to expect the worst; if Callum did survive the injuries to his brain were so significant he would have ‘no quality of life’. Either way, his life – and ours – would never be the same again.
Well miraculously Callum did survive and has gone on to make an astonishing recovery. He survived because of his incredible inner strength and determination and the amazing talents of the 10 different consultants who managed his care during the time he spent in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Neuro-rehabilitation is the next stage. Across the UK the NHS priority for in-patient rehabilitation, whether for children or adults, is: “to improve basic self-care skills; including bathing, dressing and feeding.” Once this is achieved and the child or young person is considered ‘medically stable’, they are discharged and occasionally provided with limited access to some very disjointed community services.
However, research shows that with the right help and support, people can make significant neurological improvements in their ongoing recovery, and this can continue for many years post-injury.
Sadly what many families don’t know at this point is that across the whole of the UK:
- There is very little help and support to assist their ongoing recovery
- Acquired brain injury isn’t widely understood across the general population
In 2012 the NHS ‘estimated’ approximately 40,000 children and young people across the UK sustain a brain injury each year. Yet in 21st century Great Britain, these children aren’t actively supported to recover from a life changing event or to regain any pre-accident abilities, which are the foundations of their future health and economic wellbeing.
With Callum as our inspiration, Matrix Neurological has been created based on personal experience and out of a clearly identified need. We are a new charity that aims to provide the practical help and support children and young people need to recover and succeed, and pro-actively support their families so they don’t face the enormous challenges ahead on their own.
We received a £10,000 grant last month from the Big Lottery Fund, which is enabling us to establish an office base from which to manage the charity, and start developing and delivering some innovative neuro-rehabilitation services. We’re aiming higher because we believe an acquired brain injury is life-changing, not life ending.
If you would like to find out more about Matrix Neurological, check out their twitter page.