Brain injury recovery and the importance of rehabilitation

Woman looking out window

Living with a brain injury is not easy and you may need support as part of your recovery.  

I have seen many examples of people who have brain injuries suffering from a range of difficulties such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Not being able to communicate like they did before
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Ability to care for themselves.

For most of us, the process of making a meal, or a simple sandwich, is a menial and straightforward task. 

But for those with an acquired brain injury the step-by-step process may, at times, be too much for them to follow. 

While some support may be available through the NHS it can can sometimes be limited due to stretched resources or an individual requiring more hands-on or time-devoted care that our national service understandably doesn't always have the capacity to provide. 

Accessing rehabilitation as part of your personal injury claim

When making a personal injury claim after a brain injury we have a duty to consider whether you might benefit from rehabilitation to help with your immediate needs. 

This means considering how you are now and whether any support can help you in the short to medium term.  

As a result, some of the questions you're asked may be focused on how you manage on a day to day basis. For example, routine questions I would ask are:

  • How do you manage with getting up in the morning?
  • Do you need help getting ready?
  • Are you able to make breakfast, lunch or snacks?
  • Are you in the house on your own during the day?
  • Are any family members having to take time off work to help you? 
  • What do you do if there is no one there to help you?
  • Is your memory a problem?
  • If so, do you use any methods to try and help with your memory? 
  • Tell me about your work? 
  • How do you think you will manage with work? 
  • Is there any support available at work? 

By asking these questions, it helps me to consider what support you might benefit from to get you back to the position you were in before the accident as much as possible.

I already get help from the NHS for my brain injury. Why do I need more?

The NHS is a fantastic service. However, it is only right to acknowledge and respect that its resources are not infinite, and frequently stretched - this means the help they can provide now in the short-term may not necessarily still be available in the future. Such a prospect understandably causes concern to ABI survivors or their families, especially when recovery strategies and daily living is built around that care.

So how can you safeguard your care and way of life? 

Well, by utilising brain injury rehabilitation services through your personal injury claim, we can ensure you continue to receive the treatment you need and even access more support or even additional therapies and care options you may not have known were available to you.

What does rehabilitation have to do with a claim for compensation?

Early access to rehabilitation can improve recovery from a brain injury.  

A personal injury claim can take time to resolve. As your solicitor, we need to find out the nature and extent of your injury. 

You only get one shot to make a personal injury claim. It’s not enough to look at your short to medium term recovery. We need to obtain evidence of what will happen for the remainder of your life – not an easy and rarely a quick task.  

Introducing support early on may help your long term recovery so you can enjoy a better quality of life. The support introduced can help you learn to live with your disability and take advantage of new opportunities that may come your way. 

Kelly Christie sustained a brain injury when she was a passenger in a friend’s car that was involved in a crash. Kelly was a young lady with much of her life ahead of her. I was able to work with Kelly, and get her access to specialist support which helped her adapt to her life with an acquired brain injury. Kelly is now working and living independently.  

Solicitors can help you access brain injury rehabilitation

I am part of a specialist team at Digby Brown who deal with client’s suffering the effects of acquired brain injuries.  

If your specialist solicitor believes that rehabilitation may help you on your road to recovery, they will advise you of that. We will engage with the other side from an early stage to try and access resources to ensure needs are assessed as quickly as possible.  

The insurer must consider a solicitors request in terms of a code of practice applying to claims called the Rehabilitation Code. If the insurers agree to an assessment, we will work with them to select an appropriate rehabilitation provider.  

Whilst my experience of brain injury cases is vast, I arrange for someone with appropriate qualifications to assess a client’s immediate needs. In most cases, the person completing the review will have experience supporting those with brain injuries and be able to make recommendations to benefit physical and mental health.    

Do you need to have agreement on who is at fault for your accident before getting rehabilitation?

Sometimes but not always.

The insurance company is under a duty to work together with solicitors in addressing an injuries party’s needs.

There is a code in place that requires an insurer to consider where there is a possibility, or a likelihood, of at least partial fault attaching to their client. 

As a result, insurance companies will often agree to an assessment whilst still completing their investigations.

It is accepted that it is in everyone’s best interests for an injured person to recover as best as possible.

Experience tells us that early intervention is key in the recovery process.  

What type of rehabilitation can be put in place?

Carers to come in to help you with activities of daily living – this can be to support you getting bathed, dressed, or with making meals

Someone to work with you to put your life back on track – often called a case manager. The case manager will oversee your recovery and treatment and can help put in place other support, such as the following:

  • Therapies, including physiotherapy, or speech and language therapy
  • Equipment to help you with activities around the home
  • Sessions to help with memory
  • Help with returning to work in the form of vocational support, which can include having someone to help you communicate your difficulties to your employer or making sure that any needs you have now are considered in a return to work.

How are the rehabilitation and care costs paid for?

Under the rules of the Rehabilitation code, the insurers are responsible for meeting the cost of rehabilitation, care, aids and equipment.  

Does the insurance company have to agree to rehabilitation?

Sadly, no. There is no automatic right to rehabilitation. The rehabilitation code is a best practice guide, it is not compulsory.  

However, we regularly negotiate access to rehabilitation at an early stage due to our detailed working knowledge of the rehabilitation code. Our reputation as a leading serious injury team probably helps too. 

Head Injury Information Days

Digby Brown holds free Head Injury Information Days (HIID) every May which are for people with a head or brain injury, including their families and carers, as well as professionals in the field.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about brain injury, hear from brain injury survivors, meet support groups and services available and have a go at some practical workshops.

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Stuart Barton

Stuart Barton
Partner
Serious Injury