5 September 2017 | Firm news | Article by Ciaran McCabe
It is estimated that every 90 seconds someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with an acquired brain injury; quick access to good rehabilitation plays a key part in the long term prognosis.
Whilst acute care for many patients following a brain injury is good due to dedicated specialist trauma centres, there can be delays around the provision of NHS rehabilitation, especially when specialist and multi-disciplinary treatment is required. For many people this can be incredibly difficult and expensive to access privately. When someone has been injured as a result of an accident and it is not their fault, there is the possibility of pursuing a personal injury claim and as a consequence, accessing early private rehabilitation. This can have a profound impact upon the quality of the recovery of an injury.
Many professionals as well as members of the public are unaware of the implication of the Rehabilitation Code in personal injury law. The Code prioritises rehabilitation and provides for an Immediate Needs Assessment (INA) which will assess and provide recommendations for treatment. The INA will consider the injured person’s physical, social and psychological needs. If this process is carried out early, it will also assist in establishing the value of any future interim payment to be requested on behalf of the injured person.
The monies secured under the Rehabilitation Code can be used to pay for private medical treatment which can include:
- the provision of aids and equipment;
- adapted accommodation; and
- putting in place a system of care.
Support from a case manager can also be funded. All of this can help to maximise the injured person’s recovery and improve their ongoing quality of life.
Accessing early rehabilitation is vitally important for anyone who has suffered a brain injury. In a recent case when a client who sustained a very severe brain injury was taken to hospital it was found they had sustained a tentorial subdural haemorrhage - indicating that there was bleeding at the back of his head in the protective meninges layers.
As he regained consciousness, he was extremely confused by his condition and became easily agitated; frequently thrashing around in his hospital bed. To this day he has no memory of the first few weeks after the accident and was advised that he was suffering from post-traumatic amnesia which lasted for nine weeks and indicated to medical staff the severity of his brain injury.
While he began to recover from post-traumatic amnesia other symptoms relating to his brain injury started to become more obvious. His memory span was very affected by the accident and lasted for only a few short moments, causing him to forget things almost instantly. As well as these symptoms he had little or no appetite in the very early stages of his brain injury and lost three stone in weight.
I was instructed soon after the accident and took immediate steps to arrange for him to be transferred from an NHS Hospital to a leading private hospital in London specialising in neurorehabilitation. The very substantial funding, for the neurorehabilitation was obtained under the terms of the Rehabilitation Code following an Immediate Needs Assessment.
A case manager was appointed based on my research and advice. The case manager was responsible for managing my client’s rehabilitation which included both neuro and physical therapy. His care team also provided a significant amount of help for his family. They were responsible for putting in place useful strategies and providing the emotional and practical support that he required.
When you are considering pursuing a compensation claim following a brain injury, it is incredibly important that you instruct a specialist solicitor who has experience of successfully conducting such high value cases. As we have seen failure to instruct a specialist could lead to delays in obtaining funding for critical rehabilitation which in turn may have a negative effect on an individual’s recovery.