‘Innovative’ scheme helps youngsters who suffer brain damage

Jenny MacIntyre who is launching the new service for children with brain injuries at Sheffield Children's Hospital
Jenny MacIntyre who is launching the new service for children with brain injuries at Sheffield Children's Hospital
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AN INNOVATIVE pilot scheme to help children who have problems after suffering a brain injury has been launched in Sheffield - with the potential for it to be rolled out across the country if it proves to be a success.

The charity-funded project will be trialled for two years at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to give youngsters with a brain injury access to specialist support to help them continue their recovery and return to school.

Jenny McIntyre, the new brain injury co-ordinator, said it would make a big difference to patients’ lives.

“Currently children come to hospital with brain injuries, they get excellent treatment for their physical problems, but when they get back into the community, to home or school, they may have problems with learning or behaviour which weren’t obvious when they were in hospital.

“It can be a very frustrating and confusing time for children and their families.”

Each year hundreds of children are admitted to the hospital with brain injuries.

Ms McIntyre, who has been a speech therapist for 25 years, said those with a mild or moderate injury may currently receive little support once they go home.

“Often problems are not identified during the hospital stay because the child looks and talks normally,” she said.

“However, when the child returns home they can be disruptive, have problems with short-term memory and develop physical signs such as headaches and stomach aches because of frustration and fatigue as well as behavioural difficulties.

“We hope to identify the children who could have these problems early on and work with families and schools to ensure they get the support and structure the children and families need.”

The Tadworth Brain Injury Co-ordinator service is run in partnership with national charity The Children’s Trust in Tadworth.

If the pilot is successful it could be rolled out to other hospitals across the country.

Andrew Ross, chief executive of The Children’s Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust to launch this important service.

“Too often children and young people with acquired brain injury are discharged from hospital without the specialist support in place they and their families need to overcome lifelong challenges associated with their brain injury.”