State urged to think about people with brain injuries

One reckless punch from a stranger changed Brian Hogan’s life forever, the Limerick man said at the launch of a campaign in Dublin yesterday urging the Government to invest in neuro-rehabilitation services for people who have a brain injury.

State urged to think about people with brain injuries

Brian, 36, from Ballykeefe, Co Limerick, knows what it means to be inappropriately housed after a brain injury.

Following an unprovoked attack in 2009, which left him severely brain damaged, paralysed, and blind, Brian was placed in a nursing home, a terrible place for a young man still grieving a life he once knew.

“I was one of the lucky ones, though. I got back into the community, through an Acquired Brain Injury Ireland residential service, in Co Clare, that I now call home and where I receive rehabilitation every day,” said Brian.

“I don’t want rehabilitation to be about luck, though, because I know the fear you live in, waiting for that lottery draw. It’s heart-breaking and isolating.”

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s campaign slogan is: “Don’t save me, then leave me. Rehabilitation is a right, not a request.”

The organisation wants a dedicated programme of investment over the next three years and is also calling for the implementation of the Government’s policy on neuro-rehabilitation, published more than four years ago.

National Rehabilitation Hospital
National Rehabilitation Hospital

The consultant in rehabilitation medicine at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Prof Mark Delargy, said services for people with brain injury were underdeveloped.

“As a result, people are spending a much longer time in an acute hospital bed, with access only to very limited, neuro-rehabilitation services,” said Prof Delargy.

And those who complete their specialist rehab often have nowhere to go, because of the lack of community-based nureo-rehabilitation services.

As a result, many end up living in nursing homes.

ABI Ireland chief executive, Barbara O’Connell, said that more people were surviving brain injury, due to advances in medicine and technology, but many were very often left only to exist.

Ms O’Connell said it was a lottery as to who received rehabilitation and what the outcome would be, and this could not continue.

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