The line-up of speakers was great, and with topics involving dogs, music therapy and kung fu, my attention was firmly engaged! There was some great information of how various services interact to provide the best possible support for children in the long road of rehabilitation and recovery following a brain injury, with input from therapists in the acute hospital phase, to the use of assistive technology in the home, and the support of Special Educational Needs (SEN) teachers in school, both mainstream and specialist.
For me, the most interesting part of the day was hearing how innovative schemes have been used to provide assistance in conjunction with more traditional methods. Some of these have been achieved with the assistance of funding from a legal action, whereas others have not, but the passion and dedication of those involved in these schemes spoke volumes. It was lovely to hear first-hand stories such as:
- How Dogs for Good have set up a pilot scheme to assist children with acquired brain injury, both through the use of trained dogs, and also being able to work with family pets to help.
- A scheme in Cambridge where kung fu is being used to help children regain their self-esteem and confidence, with consequential effects on social interaction, behaviour and sleep.
- The paediatric team at Alder Hey Children's Foundation Trust using music therapy as part of rehabilitation. We heard recordings of 2 poignant songs written by a child to show what his brain injury meant to him, his fears and achievements during his recovery process, as well as a song written to thank the team who looked after him in hospital – there were a lot of misty eyed faces in the audience after this talk!
It is often easy to forget the long lasting consequences of brain injuries, particularly in children, and it a constantly evolving process which involves great care and skill to manage to allow a child to reach their full potential, long after a legal action has finished. An invaluable insight to hear from those involved on a day to day basis!
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