Brain injury charity Calvert Reconnections and barristers Exchange Chambers polled 161 of the UK’s most senior brain injury solicitors.

The findings show that 89 per cent of respondents believe rehab standards have dropped as a result of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, 92 per cent say brain injury rehab is going to be more reliant than ever on the private and charitable sectors moving forward. 

But 70 per cent believe that charities are being forced to cut back on support measures for brain injured patients as a result of financially-related Covid-19 pressures.

Although virtual rehab has become commonplace in recent months, there are doubts over its long-term viability, with 63 per cent expressing concerns over its effectiveness.

With social distancing measures likely to remain in place for some months, 91 per cent of respondents anticipate an increase in the use of outdoor activities in the rehabilitation plans for brain injured patients.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Mike Barnes, a consultant neurologist and in rehab medicine who advises Calvert Reconnections, said: “Rehabilitation provision has been driven to crisis point by Covid-19 with services facing disruption and closure due to social distancing, shielding requirements, lack of specialist support and funding.

Bill Braithwaite QC, head of Exchange Chambers and trustee at Calvert Reconnections said: “The NHS is overwhelmed and charities are under severe financial pressure. It is the perfect storm.

“While virtual rehabilitation has plugged the gap, it is not a long-term solution.

“Moving forward, and taking into account Covid-19 considerations such as social distancing, everything points towards brain injury rehabilitation being at its most effective when traditional clinical therapies are combined with physical activity in the outdoors. 

“There is considerable support from medical research for the notion that outdoor activity is beneficial to brain injury rehabilitation.”

In other research findings, just over a quarter (26 per cent) of brain injury solicitors said that the other side has used Covid-19 as a tactic to stall the litigation process – despite best practice guidance suggesting the parties take a consensual approach.