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Brain Injury Forum unveils technology to improve lives

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Published on 09 May 2022


Advances in technology to help rehabilitate people who have suffered brain injuries were unveiled during a conference at the University of Sunderland. Occupational Therapy staff and students at the University have supported the Northern Acquired Brain Injury Forum meeting on campus, the organisation’s first in-person conference since the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

The forum is a group of individuals and organisations who have an interest in Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) or who provide services to individuals with ABI and their families. Part of the role of these organisations is to highlight the needs of brain injury survivors and their families and carers and lobby on their behalf.

As well as a networking lunch and the forum’s annual general meeting on City Campus, there were a number of presentations around advanced technology and robotics in neurological rehabilitation.

The experience provided an opportunity for Occupational Therapy students to welcome visitors to the event, network, and build their confidence and experience in a professional setting. They also saw first-hand the types of equipment they may be using as they head into their future careers after graduation.

Laura Common, from Cramlington, Northumberland, a first-year BSc Occupational Therapy student, attended the event, and said: “The conference presented an extensive insight into the ground-breaking technology and advances within neurorehabilitation. It was amazing to be able to try out a selection of specialist neuro products available to those living with acquired brain injuries; and to understand more about how this equipment could enhance an individual’s quality of life and independence.”

She added: “Experiences like attending this conference are extremely beneficial in increasing my understanding of the diverse areas of occupational therapy practice. Specialist events within the university have provided unique CPD learning opportunities. I have learned more about how these innovative services and products can enhance the lives of those living with complex health conditions.

Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, Nina Bedding said: “It was fantastic to be able to support the Northern Acquired Brain Injury Forum to host their event in Sunderland and great to be able to participate in the presentations and see some new exciting technology in action.”

Occupational therapy helps patients recover or develop skills needed for the activities of daily living, including self-care, leisure, independent living and work. Therapists work in a range of settings including hospitals, schools, nursing homes and with patients in their own homes. Patients who benefit from occupational therapy, include people who have had strokes, people with autism and other developmental disorders, people recovering from certain surgeries, people who experience from depression or anxiety, as well as veterans and the elderly.

Paul Brown, Secretary of the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum and also the Secretary for the Northern Acquired Brain Injury Forum (NABIF) which is a local ABI forum which covers the North East of England and Cumbria, hosted this latest event.

A senior brain injury and serious injury solicitor based in the Newcastle Office of Burnetts Solicitors, Paul has over 20 years’ experience of pursuing compensation claims for brain injury survivors and their families following traumatic brain injury. He is a member of Burnetts Solicitors award winning Serious Injuries team, specialising in cases involving catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and spinal cord injuries. This has given him an insight into the needs of not only brain injury survivors themselves but also their families and carers.

He said: “As secretary of the Northern Acquired Brain Injury Forum it was fantastic to join students from the occupation therapy course and welcome some fantastic speakers to our first in person meeting since the pandemic. The forum is all about sharing information and providing education about the effects of acquired brain injury but also the specialist treatment, support and equipment that is available to brain injury survivors. I would like to thank Nina and the University of Sunderland for hosting us and hope that we can continue to collaborate further in the future.”

The University now delivers a full cycle of health programmes from paramedic training and nursing to pharmacy, physiotherapy and medicine - and Occupational Therapy (OT) degree, which had its first intake of students in 2019, further complements Sunderland’s health and social care offer.

The investment in the course includes a fully functional independent living environment, a multi-media workshop and a suite of rehabilitation laboratories, the programme has also been approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and is accredited by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).