Virtual rehabilitation - how technology became a 'key worker' for serious injury survivors

Couple sitting looking out to sea

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a near-immediate impact to the care of those reliant on others for their health or wellbeing especially those with brain and spinal cord injuries.

Many acquired brain injury (ABI) or spinal cord injury survivors are vulnerable and rely heavily on the tailored care package from case managers and support network which their unique situation demands. 

When the coronavirus restrictions halted or impacted these it was left, in many cases, for family members to fill that void even if they didn’t have the expertise, resources or time their loved one needed.

At Digby Brown we started collaborating with healthcare professionals and groups in the hope of finding an innovative and immediate solution to one key question:

How do we make sure individuals and their families continue to get the care they need during the pandemic?

Online chats for in-house support

With serious injury cases it is crucial to give individuals access to rehabilitation as early as possible so they have the best chance to recover and as the country began utilising services like Zoom to stay open, it became clear that serious injury survivors could also benefit.

Granted, virtual rehabilitation cannot replace the value of face-to-face contact but in the face of unprecedented change and challenges that demanded people stay indoors and avoid human contact, it provided an excellent short-term alternative.

The adaptation of technology made it possible for survivors to keep in touch with those crucial to their welfare: psychologists; physiotherapists; case management workers; solicitors; and friends and peers from support groups. 

Some clients have embraced technology and, understandably, others still miss face-to-face contact. Some have found the ‘quiet’ of lockdown made their recovery easier while others, particularly with more complex needs, have found it incredibly difficult. 

Time will tell to what extent technology will continue but it may well be the new norm going forward in appropriate cases such as those who actually prefer to not meet people in person in case they suffer from anxiety or have a fear of infections.

The future of care during coronavirus 

Scotland has faced a longer lockdown than other areas of the UK and services are only beginning to open back up – and given the backlog and reduced capacity of facilities (due to the need to still retain social distancing) they are already under pressure. 

People see clinics being closed, appointments cancelled, delays to waiting lists and a redirection of services. A key role of a case manager is to make sure an individual gets the most out of their support from the NHS and other private services, but it is possible more individuals and families may come to rely more on private services.This is a key point for people to understand because the term ‘private care’ can sometimes seem daunting – and expensive – which can put people off seeking it. However if you have an ongoing personal injury claim following your serious injury, private care can be included as part of your claim and is something your solicitor can help arrange on your behalf. 

We all find ourselves in a challenging time but however things change during COVID-19 one thing remains the same: we are committed to making sure individuals access the best possible health, wellbeing and legal support.