Brain injury and rehabilitation services

 

Sir, – Colm Griffin’s experience of rehabilitation after his stroke is unfortunately not an isolated case (September 14th). The Headway Information and Support telephone service takes calls from people affected by brain injury around the country. What is striking about the experiences of people who call us is the variability of access to services throughout the country. The difference of a county boundary can exclude or include someone within the funding criteria for vital training services to enable them to return to employment. The location of support centres, necessarily within the larger centres of population, means that those in remoter regions face sometimes insurmountable transport difficulties to access help. It is not surprising to us that from Mr Griffin’s perspective in Kerry, it can appear that, once you are out of hospital or rehabilitation, you are on your own.

Much attention has also been put recently on the issue of “hidden disabilities”, of which stroke and acquired brain injury are examples. The struggle for visibility of the difficulties faced by people after brain injury is sometimes reflected in the struggle for visibility and awareness of brain injury in wider society and of the services which may be available. This compounds the feelings of isolation that people often experience after hospital discharge.

The “postcode lottery” of rehabilitation services in Ireland means that there may well be no physical services located near where someone lives. But for the price of a local call, we can provide at least the vital human contact with people who have experience of what families face every day, struggling to connect with the help they need, in a system insufficient to deal with the demand placed upon it. – Yours, etc,

RICHARD STABLES,

Manager,

Headway Information

and Support Service,

Blackhall Green, Dublin 7.

Sir, – Thank you for focusing on the issue of brain injury, including stroke. Behind the health statistics, there are people, and we need to hear their stories. – Yours, etc,

MARY LYNCH,

Bray, Co Wicklow.