Fresh hope for patients with brain injuries

A NEW development at Goole Hospital will mean treatment closer to home for people affected by brain injury.

Every year hundreds of people nationally suffer a brain injury – either as a result of an accident, illness such as an infection, stroke, tumour or poisoning.

Since the closure of the nearly-new 1.5m Leonard Cheshire unit in 2003, people from the Goole area have had to travel to Leeds or York for treatment.

But the unit is now reopening in August thanks to a joint venture between the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Trust (NLAG).

Some patients will come direct from intensive care or a high dependency unit, while others will already be stabilised medically.

The biggest source of referral for acquired brain injuries is road accidents and part of the rehabilitation process is about teaching people to cope with long-term consequences like short-term memory problems, reduced stamina, concentration and initiative.

The 14-bed ward will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, a speech and language therapist, a neuropsychologist and a number of rehabilitation support workers, but run independently by the trust.

Mike McPeake, services manager for BIRT, said: "People now are getting treated in the 'golden hour' and once you get through that chances are you will survive even with with catastrophic injuries.

"If you are picked up at the roadside by an ambulance service, who can't necessarily provide front-line service and transported in a vehicle with a commercial chassis your chances of survival are not as great.

"Now with specialised hi-tech vehicles and highly trained staff, people will survive."

Specialist treatment for brain injury needed to start as soon as possible on often disorientated and confused patients.

"There is a critical window, like anything else the sooner you start the better," said Mr McPeake.

Karen Griffiths, divisional manager, clinical sciences from NLAG added: "This is a long awaited development for the locality, as currently patients requiring neuro-rehabilitation programmes on discharge from hospital are required to access services out of the area – which brings difficulties for both patients, carers and their families.

"Staff welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with BIRT and are extremely excited to be involved."