New over-65 brain injury service now in Ballymena

THE NORTHERN Trust Brain Injury Service in Ballymena has established a dedicated service for the over 65’s to deal with brain injuries and compliment the well established adult service.

A brain injury can affect anyone at any time in their life. This week is action for brain injury week and as the older population is increasing we are becoming more aware that older people are at a greater risk of acquiring a traumatic brain injury.

Dr Frances Duffy, Principal Clinical Psychologist has set up the service, she said: “The older population is increasing and as people get older they become more susceptible to acquiring a brain injury.

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“Falls are the most common cause of injuries and hospital admissions for older people and one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year.

“The ageing brain makes older adults more vulnerable to traumatic brain injury and with more severe consequences. A head trauma that would have no lasting impact on a younger adult may result in a brain injury for an older adult.

“It is the aim of the over 65 brain injury service to reduce the range of problems faced by older adults who acquire a brain injury and help them to reintegrate into family, social and work situations.

“A brain injury can have a traumatic effect on the person and their family, but a person who has suffered a brain injury can continue to live a full and active life with the appropriate support and rehabilitation.”

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Dr Frances Duffy works with Assistant Psychologist Emma Wylie. Following referral to the service they will complete a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. He said: “Every brain injury presents with its own challenges, the purpose of the neuropsychological assessment is to identify the clients strengths and weaknesses.

“From this, we develop an individual rehabilitation programme to help the client achieve their goals. This specialised rehabilitation helps the client to regain their skills and abilities, and address new problems posed by their brain injury.

“Some of the common problems following brain injury are fatigue, poor concentration, memory difficulties, executive difficulties, where there is difficulty with planning and organising and language difficulties, where there may be difficulty producing or understanding words.

“We talk to clients about what to expect following a brain injury and teach strategies to help compensate for difficulties. For example, memory and executive difficulties can be successfully overcome by developing a good routine, keeping a diary and using lists. Sometimes clients will use humour to manage slips of memory in social situations when they forget peoples’ names or we can work with them to help them to relearn important names.

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“Clients can also access assessment and therapy from all other professionals within the Northern Trust Brain Injury Service. This includes support for carers and families through the Northern Trust Brain Injury Service Carers Therapist.

The aim of the service is to help clients to live as full a life as possible and as independently as possible, by increasing participation in home, social and work situations.”

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