The hidden costs of brain injury
Rehabilitation Over a million people in the UK are living with a brain injury-related disability, at an estimated cost to the economy of some £15 billion, but money is not the only factor in rehabilitation.
“To get the best benefit, rehabilitation needs to be specialised, local and timely,” says Chloe Hayward, Executive Director of the United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF). “The brain has a period of hyper-plasticity after injury and delay loses this window. Then, too often, people are sent straight home with no support in the home environment.”
"Aquired Brain Injury doesn’t get the same awareness as heart disease or cancer, despite affecting an estimated 1.3 million people."
A lack of beds and a lack of an established procedure for rehabilitation contribute to people with acquired brain injury (ABI) “lurching from crisis to crisis”, she says. “This is not good for them and it’s expensive because they are accessing emergency services instead of receiving a steady treatment stream.”
ABI doesn’t get the same awareness as heart disease or cancer despite affecting an estimated 1.3 million people in the UK, she says, and though some people do make full and remarkable recoveries, cognitive issues like fatigue, memory problems, mood control and sequencing (planning and completing complex tasks in correct order, such as making coffee), tend to go unperceived.
The consequences of undetected ABI
"Cognitive issues go unperceived, [...] in the longer term, someone could be in real trouble.”
“We know one man who had rehab after a bike accident and returned to full-time work but this was taking every ounce of his energy and focus. He stopped taking part in his hobbies, had no friends or family and wasn't eating properly. In the longer term, you could see someone like this in real trouble.”
“The incidence of previous ABI among young offenders is astoundingly high. One of the prison governors we work with said it was a real lightbulb moment when we explained this. He said it changed the way prisoners were viewed as ‘mad or bad’ to thinking they were ‘mad or bad or ABI-affected’; it opened up a new line of thought.”