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Charities and community rehab groups pull together

Brain injury charity UKABIF has asked healthcare authorities to include people with acquired brain injury (ABI) on the list of those most vulnerable and at-risk during the COVID-19 crisis.



It contacted the Department of Health & Social Care, NHS England and the Chief Medical Officer to request that ABI was included on the list of ‘vulnerable’ conditions.

The change would result in the NHS responding to ABI people as high risk and any advice and support through 111 and 999 would be more likely to be treated as a priority.

At the time of writing ABI is not directly referenced by Public Health England as vulnerable (please check online for subsequent changes).

Currently it outlines: “Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy”.

Meanwhile, UKABIF has been involved in efforts by the Community Rehabilitation Alliance (CRA) to help organisations involved in community rehab to support each other through the pandemic.

The CRA brings together around 20 charities and healthcare bodies, including the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Stroke Association and the MS Society.

As the COVID-19 crisis deepened, members of the alliance held a conference call and, as well as sharing their insights into managing the challenges of the coronavirus, they came up with a list of actions.

These included the creation of a virtual workspace enabling members of the alliance to share ideas and collaborate during the crisis.

A “self-care hub” is also being developed with useful information for people with long-term conditions, while new community rehab online resources are also being evaluated. Alliance members also agreed to explore how they could work more closely with the fitness industry while social distancing and the lockdown continue.

CRA member ukactive, which aims to improve fitness among the British public, agreed to look into ways of supporting community rehab provision.

Elsewhere, charities have been stepping up their efforts to look after vulnerable people while face-to-face support remains off limits. The Child Brain Injury Trust has launched a virtual brain injury service for families.

It offers assessments, advice on benefits and funding, parental and sibling support, educational information, legal support and further signposting.

SameYou, the brain injury charity set up by Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, has been posting daily ‘Pockets of Calm’ on its social media channels.

They feature tips and stories to help people through this time.

The charity has also launched an emergency response campaign for brain injury and stroke patients.

Working with partners Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston and UCL in England, it is fundraising to provide new virtual rehabilitation clinics for brain injury and stroke patients during COVID-19.

On a regional level, Headway Preston and Chorley has been offering regular weekly “friendship calls” over phone.

They can be arranged on the same day and time each week and are aimed at lessening the chances of people feeling isolated and lonely.

Individuals affected by have also been doing their bit. Anne Johnston, a former winner of the UKABIF Film Award, has made a film for fellow brain injury survivors on how to survive self isolation during COVID-19 lockdown.

Anne tells viewers: “Here are nine tips so you can learn how to survive self-isolation during coronavirus. As a brain injury warrior, self-isolation has been a big part of my life for two years. I hope these tips help you while we’re social distancing.”

Also, Emma Thompson, a physiotherapist from Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, has uploaded a workout video to YouTube to help people with reduced mobility to exercise.

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Video: everyday vs specialist tech

Assistive technology Expert Andy Fell joins Irwin Mitchell law firm for an in-depth exploration of the very latest independence-boosting devices and platforms.



Technology plays a day to day role in our lives and mobile phones, tablets, Alexa and Siri are common place.

Imagine the impact on your life if you were no longer able to interact with a touch screen or keyboard or give voice commands….

In this virtual event, Assistive Technology expert Andy Fell gives practical demonstrations of how everyday technology and specialist technology can be used to help give independence to those who need it most and why specialist technology may be needed.

During the event hosted by Lauren Haas, personal injury solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP, Andy goes into detail about what apps and gadgets are on the market, how everyday technology can be optimised such as the Amazon Alexa, and answered a number of questions ranging from touch screen sensitivity to smart watch reminders.

Case managers, ancillary medical professionals, as well as interested members in healthcare, social care, parents and clients may find this recording useful, as well as anyone caring for, working or living with people such as dementia sufferers or sufferers of other conditions which restrict their mobility.

Andy Fell is an independent disability and assistive technology (AT) consultant with almost twenty years’ experience working with all disabilities and age groups.

He is a qualified Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired and, since qualification, has lectured on the use of assistive technology and role of AT in the life of disabled people.

He has worked with a wide range of charitable organisations including British Dyslexia Association, was head of assistive technology for Guide Dogs for the Blind and National Disability Advisor for the Royal Yacht Association.

He has also worked for blue chip companies, the emergency services and various government departments including Department for Work and Pensions.

Andy is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, chairman and founding trustee of the Wetwheels Foundation and sat on the British Dyslexia Association – Workplace Assessors Professional Review Panel.

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The relationship between music and running

By Daniel Thomas, joint managing director of Chroma Therapies.



By Daniel Thomas, joint managing director of Chroma Therapies

With its ability to produce new neural pathways, Neurologic Music Therapy is able to encourage movement, co-ordination, improve speech and language, and improve the ability to read/feel emotions, reactions and more, in people living with catastrophic injuries.

This is because music automatically connects to the brain. And this automaticity is what makes music so powerful.

Music also has to ability to push your training capabilities farther and faster especially in running.

This is why a running playlist is the ideal accompaniment to any runner.

Each songs tempo stimulates the brain, evoking a running response of either a faster pace or a steady rhythm depending on what you want to achieve.

For a faster pace, a good running playlist should contain songs with 150-180bpm.

Unfortunately, with not many songs out there using that speed (unless you enjoy rock, metal or speed garage for running) than the other option is to choose songs with 75-90bpm, as this tempo is perfect for a steady rhythm and maximising efficiency.

Do you recall an earlier blog where we discussed cadence and stride length using NMT for preventing falls in the elderly?

We suggested music with a high bpm count promotes movement, good cadence and walking speed, so songs like Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’, which has 85 bpm, is ideal.

BPM strongly correlates to step cadence.

Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) is an important aspect of NMT.

Predictable rhythmic structure allows the sensori-motor system to move in sync with the beat.

This is, in essence, why music is important to runners, as it has the ability to communicate with the brain in order to help maintain a steady pace or increase speed depending on the bpm.

When it comes to mental wellbeing, we will always discuss music’s ability to improve mental wellbeing, and its effect can also be attributed to runners.

Music’s ability to improve stride, cadence and style, to produce better and better runs, and enable runners to achieve personal goals also have a positive effect upon mental wellbeing.

A sense of accomplishment. And with the right playlist, runners can end each run on a high.

We also like to discuss how NMT is more effective when it is personalised to that individual.

The same can be said in the case of a runner. A playlist that includes, not only songs with the ideal tempo for them, but also have some personal meaning, have the greatest positive effect upon runners.

The more enjoyable the run, the less fatigue is experienced. This may be due to the fact that music is able to interfere with the parts of the brain that communicate fatigue, essentially causing a distraction, so less fatigue is experienced.

For runners, the relationship between music and running can be seen to be just as effective and important as the relationship between music and recovering from a brain injury.

Its ability to improve running capability, speed, motivation, and promote mental wellbeing is what makes the difference between a run just being a run and reaching ‘Flow State’ – the mental state where the runner is in the moment of running – no distractions, and the run becomes…euphoric.

Read more: Running in the name of mental health

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Concussion could lead to depression, ADHD, dementia and Parkinson’s – study



A new study has revealed a link between concussion and the risk of being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, dementia and Parkinson’s disease later in life.

Despite ‘clinical recovery’ from concussion typically lasting one week, a team of researchers from the University of Manitoba suspected there may be longer term effects. They used 25 years of population-based health data between 1990 and 2015, involving almost 50,000 cases of concussion from people living in Manitoba, Canada.

They found that concussion was associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood and anxiety disorders (MADs), dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

After analysing the population data, they found that concussion was linked to an increased risk of diagnosis of ADHD, dementia and Parkinson’s.

Women who had a concussion were at greater risk of developing ADHD and MADs, but there were no differences between men and women for the risk of developing dementia or Parkinson’s.

Multiple concussions didn’t affect the risk of later being diagnosed with ADHD, but a second concussion increased the risk of dementia, while exposure to more than three concussions increased the risk of being diagnosed with MADs.

While previous studies have found links between concussion and ADHD, dementia, Parkinson’s and MADs, most have relied on patients self-reporting their symptoms, the researchers write.

However, this study can only show an association, not cause and effect.

The mechanism behind this increased risk is unknown, but the researchers state it’s possible that the pathways of some biomarkers that are dysregulated in ADHD, Mads, dementia and Parkinson’s, namely, cortisol, are also affected after a concussion.

The paper, published in the BMJ journal, states that future research is needed to explore the relationships between concussion and ADHD, MADs, dementia and Parkinson’s in other populations.

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