Having initially been given little chance of survival after a brain haemorrhage, with the support of Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, Ben now lives independently and continues to rebuild his life.
Here, we learn more about his journey and why the support of the team at the specialist centre has enabled the young survivor to look to the future
“I was in hospital and literally everyone was told the machines were being switched off.
“But my consultant barged in like an ex at a wedding – I’ve been told it was actually a phone call, but I like my version better! – and to cut a long story short, he saw something in me to let me live.
“My life was saved by this man, but my life was given back to me by the team at Nottingham.”
From the trauma of Christmas Eve seven years ago has come a near-miraculous turnaround for Ben – a survivor who has refused to give up at every step of his long and ongoing journey to recovery, and who continues to be indebted to the team at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre for their support in that.
Aged only 17, Ben was admitted to Nottingham’s Queen Medical Centre with symptoms including headaches, vomiting and he had also collapsed at home.
Medics diagnosed a right cerebellar bleed and intubated Ben, who remained in a coma until February 2017. Despite the initial bleak outlook, and thanks to the intervention from his consultant as his machines were set to be turned off, Ben began to make progress that defied all expectations.
He was admitted to Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre’s high dependency Fernwood Unit in March. The centre, owned by Active Care Group, is a specialist neuro-rehabilitation site for adults with brain injury or neurological conditions.
An assessment found that Ben was in a vegetative state, unable to interact with his environment or communicate by any means.
Multi-disciplinary specialism, alongside nursing and care expertise, combined to devise a route to recovery for Ben – laying the foundations of the life he now enjoys today.
Ben underwent a tracheostomy to help his respiratory function and received percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) for his nutrition and hydration. He was completely dependent on the care and nursing staff at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre – and through bespoke support, multi-disciplinary treatment and rehabilitation support, he continued to emerge from his vegetative state.
Reassessment gave a diagnosis of Minimally Conscious State Minus (MCS-) from which he continued to progress both physically and cognitively, with the support of his dedicated team.
His tracheostomy was weaned on site, and was successfully decanulated in August 2017.
As he continued to go from strength to strength, Ben was moved to Millwood Unit of Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, a specialist in slow-stream rehab, for ongoing neuro-rehabilitation.
In early 2018, with the support of his occupational therapists, he joined a local wheelchair basketball club.
This gave Ben an important activity to be part of, both physically and emotionally, and he became a vital member of the club in supporting others in their ongoing journey of recovery.
Happily, later that year, Ben was discharged back home to live independently in the community without a formal care package.
He now only requires minimal assistance with his daily care needs and is able to prepare and eat a normal diet, communicate verbally and is even looking for opportunities to return to work.
For more information about Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, or to enquire about referrals, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01732 779353.
Meet Michael Jones, Head of Therapies at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre
Michael began his career as an assistant psychologist, working as an activities coordinator, and has been supported to retrain as an occupational therapist and work his way up to his current position. Here, we find out more about his role, the work of the specialist service and what motivates him in both his personal and professional life
Can you tell us a bit about your career background and experience?
I’m originally for Shropshire and first came to Nottingham in 1997 to study psychology at Trent. When I graduated, I stayed in Nottingham with plans to continue my studies after a short break from education to get some hands-on experience of working with people. That is why I joined the organisation, and began working as an activity coordinator having applied for assistant psychology posts up and down the country.
During my seven years in this role, I began working with OTs and something clicked. They were using elements of cognitive psychology alongside practical interventions within a framework of function, and it just made sense and this was the unexpected fork in the road that set me off on a different path than intended.
The company supported me through re-training in Occupational Therapy at Derby University. Unfortunately at the time of qualification there were no available OT positions within the Nottingham area, so I briefly left the company to begin my OT practice. Two years later an opening for a OT became available at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, which I applied for and thankfully was successful.
I’ve worked my way up through the bandings to a band seven position, and then an opportunity arose to cover the Head of Therapies role, initially through a colleague’s maternity leave, but eventually on a permanent basis.
Please give us an overview of the services that are provided at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre
Nottingham has three units – Fernwood, our high dependency unit, where we treat individuals with high nursing needs. They may present with a disorder of consciousness, have respiratory problems, tracheostomies or vents. We also have Millwood, a slow stream neurological rehabilitation unit, and Rosewood, a long-term neurological care unit.
What is your favourite thing about working at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre?
I love the variety and that everyday is different, we have a wide range of individuals presenting with everything from patients with tracheostomies and vents to high functioning patients whose primary difficulties are cognitive, so the scope and range of treatments we offer keeps everything fresh. The thing I enjoy the most is the people I work with and the atmosphere in the centre, we have some fantastic staff here which is really important when you’re working with very complex residents which can present some challenging situations.
What is your vision for the service in the short to mid-term future?
We have some exciting plans to reshuffle elements of our environment to better suit our residents’ needs, provide clear treatment pathways for residents to progress and move through the centre as part of their recovery journey. I’d really like to see those come to fruition and for us to work towards being recognised as a centre of excellence for neurological care and rehabilitation both locally and nationally.
Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time?! I’m a proud father of two young children, so as you can imagine spare time is a little on the short side at the moment!
When I’m not being a dad, I’ve got a passion for photography and travel, both increasingly difficult now with a young family, but I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some very exciting countries and have some wonderful experiences, Cambodia probably being my favourite to date, but for the time being I’ve swapped backpacking in East Asia for long weekends at Center Parcs and I couldn’t be happier!
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