Action for Brain Injury Week at St Neots Hospital

There are at least 2 million people living with a brain injury within the UK**.  This is likely to be an under-reported statistic due to many people not realising the affects that have occurred, and the statistics are often based on those that present themselves at Accident and Emergency Departments. 

Here at St Neots Hospital, we are supporting Action for Brain Injury Week by undertaking experiential learning activities for the staff, reinforcing the empathy that they have with the people who are in their care. For five consecutive days, we will be undertaking fun sessions for the staff to participate in, to have fun, and to experience a snippet of what life is like for those with not only a brain injury but those with progressive neurological conditions.

Throughout the week we will be preparing modified foods and drinks for staff to try, encouraging our staff to experience someone else feeding them, supporting them in a wheelchair, finding out what sensory deficits can do to our perceptions, awareness sessions and fun quizzes to learn more about the impact of a brain injury on a person and encouraging our staff to consider what it is like for a person to move into a strange new placement, away from their families, friends and own belongings.  Finally, on Friday, we will be supporting our local Headway in Bedford by holding a ‘Hats for Headway’ event and donating the money raised. On Sunday 26th May 2019 we will be holding an ‘Afternoon Tea’ event bringing everyone together at the end of the week.

Interestingly people still think a brain injury is caused by an accident or another type of impact. Statistics change and vary between different localities within the United Kingdom, but UKABIF report that approximately 50% of all brain injuries are due to a car accident, with a further 12% caused by an aggressive incident. Almost a quarter of all brain injuries are caused by a slip, trip or fall either within the home, street or workplace and 10% caused by sporting injuries, primarily in the higher impact sports such as football, skiing, rugby or boxing. However approximately 8-10% of all brain injuries are caused by a physical health event such as a brain tumour, hydrocephalus, meningitis, hypoxic brain injury and stroke. 

Hypoxic brain injury can be caused by a number of underlying physical health events causing the heart to go into failure, and not support the brain to receive the oxygen it requires. The brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen to survive. If the oxygen supply is interrupted, the functioning of the brain is disturbed immediately and irreversible damage can quickly follow. This can also be caused by an event such as nearly drowning, choking or a drug overdose. 

Statistics from Headway for 2016/2017** show that stroke has increased by 10% since 2005/2006. There are two main causes of a stroke. Ischaemic, which accounts for 85% of causes of stroke, where a clot prevents the blood from flowing to the brain, and haemorrhagic, where the vessels taking the blood to the brain collapse. Particular physical health issues can increase the risk of having a stroke, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. People can help reduce their likelihood of having a stroke by having a healthy diet, undertaking moderate exercise, reducing alcohol intake and smoking cessation, which when combined will reduce their risk of the causational factors.

Treatment required for rehabilitation following an acquired brain injury differs from person to person and the extent of the damage that has been caused. Unfortunately the availability of specialist rehabilitation placements, such as that offered at St Neots Hospital, can be determined by where you live, and often, in more severe cases the person may need to move away from the home area to receive the treatment they require. 

Within St Neots Hospital we have developed a team of staff experienced in brain injury rehabilitation particularly those with challenging behaviours.  Louise Smith (Hospital Director), Dr Caroline Knight (Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist), and Kirsty Page (Senior Occupational Therapist) have significant experience of working within a Neuropsychiatry setting for over 20 years and are able to lead a quality clinical team in delivering rehabilitation within this setting.

** Statistics found here

Statistics from UKABIF website available here.