12 Charities of Xmas Series: Rebuilding Lives After Brain Injury
Headway Thames Valley is a local charity that works tirelessly to improve life after brain injury. It provides support, services and information to brain injury survivors, their families and caregivers, as well as campaigns to reduce the incidence of brain damage in the Thames Valley.
Brain damage can occur within seconds, but the effects can last a lifetime. Headway Thames Valley offers a number of fantastic services for people living with brain injury.
The association operates an activity center in Henley, which operates Monday through Thursday, and offers activities such as music therapy, art therapy, tai chi, exercise classes, social and cognitive groups. . This service is usually funded by local authorities and is attended by customers from all over Berkshire and South Oxfordshire.
The association offers a neurological rehabilitation service which offers up to 12 sessions with an experienced physiotherapist, a speech therapist and a psychologist. Prices range from £ 30 to £ 60 per session. Sessions take place at Henley or at the client’s home and are available to family members as appropriate.
The Living with Brain Injury course is an eight week course that HTV runs 3-4 times a year at various locations in Berkshire and South Oxfordshire. The course aims to improve clients’ understanding of Acquired Brain Injury (ACI), awareness, acceptance and coping skills. It is also a great opportunity for them to meet other people with ABI. The course is led by a psychologist from the community-based neurological rehabilitation team and the occupational therapist from HTV.
HTV also runs support groups every 5/6 weeks in Berkshire. These offer peer support and are facilitated by HTV’s occupational therapist.
The initial 1: 1 advice and guidance is facilitated by HTV’s occupational therapist and / or assistant psychologist where they meet with clients and families to discuss ABI.
Other than the activity center, all services can be offered online or in person, and many are free. Adapting quickly to the pandemic, Headway Thames Valley has shifted to providing online services, to ensure that their clients do not feel isolated and can stay engaged and motivated and continue with their rehabilitation efforts.
Boyes Turner’s Personal Injury team have assisted many clients who have suffered brain injuries across the Thames Valley and where appropriate have referred those clients to Headway Thames Valley to access their amazing services.
Dennis is one of those people. Dennis suffered a severe head trauma when he was hit by a fast-moving car as he was crossing the road near his home in Reading in October 2017. Dennis’ wife Amanda approached us shortly afterwards. time after and while he was still in the hospital. In addition to the brain injury, Dennis also suffered multiple fractures to his face and left ankle. He was airlifted to John Radcliffe Hospital where he spent several weeks in intensive care, followed by several months at Royal Berkshire Hospital and finally 2 months in a neurorehabilitation unit in Salisbury.
While Dennis made great improvements, his brain injury left him with lingering problems. Problems with memory and especially vision required almost constant care from Amanda. Still an avid reader, Dennis now found it extremely difficult. He also had difficulty using a cell phone and the TV remote control. A lack of sensitivity in his arm and left hand made it difficult for him to cut his food and dress on his own.
In 2019, we referred Dennis to Headway Thames Valley and he started to frequent the Henley Activity Center one day a week. He enjoyed meeting other clients and participating in activities. When the pandemic struck, HTV quickly moved to provide remote services. Dennis and Amanda have participated in video calls and online groups, with Dennis particularly enjoying the football discussion groups and quizzes. Amanda took advantage of meeting Dennis’ friends at HTV.
All of this has helped Dennis maintain a regular routine and give him structure to his day and since attending Amanda has noticed an improvement in Dennis’ mobility, coordination and memory. Since coming out of the lockdown, Dennis has returned to the activity center, participating in activities such as upcycling and Tai Chi.
Amanda says “Headway Thames Valley helped us 100%. Headway Thames Valley is like family to Dennis now ”
Jamie Higgins, Director of Headway Thames Valley, says “Brain damage is something that not many people know about until it happens to them or someone they know. Much of the work we do at Headway Thames Valley involves educating families about the common effects of brain damage and our vision for recovery; it gives our customers the basics to make the best possible recovery.
“One of the great things about our job is that no one is ever fired from our services – we work with people for as long as they need. This approach allows us to see people continue to recover for years and years, often indefinitely. ”
If you are interested in learning more about Headway Thames Valley, or would like to support them, visit their website at https://headwaythamesvalley.org.uk