Over 3,500 head injuries treated

Back row (L-R): Cathal McElhatton, Foyle Disability Resource Centre Manager; Shane McCarney, Acquired Brain Injury Team Consultant Psychologist; Patricia Doherty, Care Assistant; Kitty Downey, Acting Head of Service Southern Sector; Angela O' Donnell, Community Brain Injury Team Social Worker; Kevin Murray, Senior Day Care Worker; Paul McCaffrey, Foyle Disability Resource Centre Administrator and Deborah McCrory, Acquired Brain Injury Researcher.
Front row (L-R): Sandra Donnell, Leonard Cairns, Susie McLaughlin and Jacqueline McLaughlin, Foyle Disability Resource Centre Service Users.

Back row (L-R): Cathal McElhatton, Foyle Disability Resource Centre Manager; Shane McCarney, Acquired Brain Injury Team Consultant Psychologist; Patricia Doherty, Care Assistant; Kitty Downey, Acting Head of Service Southern Sector; Angela O' Donnell, Community Brain Injury Team Social Worker; Kevin Murray, Senior Day Care Worker; Paul McCaffrey, Foyle Disability Resource Centre Administrator and Deborah McCrory, Acquired Brain Injury Researcher. Front row (L-R): Sandra Donnell, Leonard Cairns, Susie McLaughlin and Jacqueline McLaughlin, Foyle Disability Resource Centre Service Users.

The Western Trust has revealed that its staff are treating over 3,600 people each year for head injuries at Altnagelvin Hospital .

The shocking statistic wasreleased by the Trust to mark Brain Injury Awareness Week last week.

Western Health and Social Care Trust bosses said they particularly wanted to highlight issues around concussion, which is more accurately known as ‘mild traumatic brain injury’.

Local experts have said that brain injuries are continuing to increase each year across the north and warned that a mild brain injury can often happen in an instant, its effects may have life-long consequences.

Figures released show that around 3,600 people in the Western Trust area are attending hospital with a head injury.

Of these, around 85 per cent are mild in nature. The other 15 per cent will be moderate to severe,requiring care and support as a result of the brain injury.

The majority of survivors are young people, aged 16-28 with a normal life expectancy.

The Western Trust has developed an innovative service whereby a brain injury specialist nurse receives referrals from the hospital emergency departments to help people understand and manage their concussion symptoms to help prevent further complications.

The Community Brain Injury Service played a role in a recent project alongside the Headway charity, funded through the Social Work Strategy Innovation Fund.

This involved a series of information and training sessions for carers, staff and people with physical and sensory disabilities attending the Foyle Disability Resource Centre.

These sessions demonstrated how a brain injury can affect an individual’s behaviour and has seen a reduction in the number of incidents occurring within the facility.

Shane McCarney, Western Trust Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Community Brain Injury Service Lead Clinician, said: “Brain injuries may lead to a number of different problems such as personality changes, cognitive functioning such as memory loss, physical disabilities, speech and language difficulties and sensory loss.

“The Western Trust Community Brain Injury team help people with brain injury to recover, rehabilitate and regain their independence.”

For further information on concussion please visit: www.concussionaware.org.uk and www.headway.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/concussion-aware