National brain injury charity Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has launched new telerehabilitation services to ensure 1,200 brain injury survivors in their services continue to receive vital neuro-rehabilitative and psychological support during the pandemic.
Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, with more than 300 staff nationwide, currently has 16 residential rehabilitation services around Ireland that are cocooning to stop the spread of coronavirus.
According to the charity, social isolation is an everyday reality for people who live with a brain injury. The latest national restrictions have been a major blow to its service users, threatening a reversal in progress for some clients. Frontline rehabilitation teams have been working around the clock to keep residential clients safe and to deliver necessary support during this crisis to those in community.
Like so many organisations, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has turned to technology for solutions to maintain essential rehabilitation services and continue as a lifeline to hundreds of brain injury survivors and their families across the country.
Principal Clinical Psychologist with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland Dr Brian McClean believes there is value both for the clients and the organisation, to increase the availability of telerehabilitation when the pandemic is over.
Dr McClean said: “Telerehabilitation is proving effective in delivering therapies to many clients during this time of physical distancing and it could play a role in the longer term as part of our toolkit. Talking therapies are central to psychology work and thankfully technology has improved so much that remote sessions using video call are practically seamless.
“Much of the work I’m doing with clients is no different if it was physically face to face. Using technology, I can still perform client assessments and deliver a range of therapies very successfully remotely, such as working with clients on memory strategies, fatigue management, helping people build structure and routine in their life.”
Under the current COVID-19 restrictions, many brain injury survivors fall into at-risk groups and have been subject to cocooning. Others are struggling with the national restrictions which have put all opportunities on hold for socialising and integrating in community activities.
One brain injury survivor with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s midlands service, Glenn Maher, 49, said: “It is tough not being able to get out and talk to people. I really like talking to people and it’s been hard not to see the lads.”
Thanks to Dr McClean, Glenn has been able to continue to participate in cognitive group sessions and “see the lads” via video call during the pandemic restrictions. The former truck driver from Portlaoise continued: “The first time I did a video session, it really gave me a lift. In the real world, we meet every Friday in the parish centre and it’s a highlight of my week. Thanks to telerehab, I like the fact that we’re still in touch with each other. It’s given me structure which is really important. It’s keeping me ticking over until I get out and about again.”
Thanks to telerehabilitation sessions organised by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, Glenn can participate online in psychology therapy on a Monday, mindfulness on a Wednesday and engage in cognitive group sessions on a Friday where he can interact and enjoy peer support from other people living with a brain injury.
While the exploration into telerehab was unplanned by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, it has shown many positive results already. The organisation’s use of online video contact has proven a good alternative to maintain many relationships with clients and continue the pursuit of vital rehabilitation goals.
To support their frontline workers delivering essential services to brain injury survivors during the pandemic, donate at abiireland.ie/aprilappeal.