Burnley brain haemorrhage survivor (37) benefits from new brain injury scheme supported by Game of Thrones actress

A successful scheme to help brain injury and stroke survivors is being rolled out through Lancashire and South Cumbria, thanks to new funding from a national charity.

The Neuro Rehabilitation OnLine programme, which is jointly run by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Central Lancashire, has received nearly £180,000 from brain injury recovery charity SameYou to expand the pilot project.

SameYou, which was set up by actress Emilia Clarke after she suffered two life threatening brain haemorrhages whilst working on set for Game of Thrones, has been awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund.

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The scheme, which uses online video sessions to provide one-to-one and group specialist neurorehabilitation, was created because the Covid-19 pandemic affected face-to-face NHS treatment.

Student physio Alan Gregory giving a demonstrationStudent physio Alan Gregory giving a demonstration
Student physio Alan Gregory giving a demonstration

One of those who attended the pilot programme was Abdul Malik, who suffered a brain haemorrhage and seizure at his home in Burnley in May last year. Initially he was unable to speak for two-and-a-half weeks and was paralysed down the right-hand side of his body, meaning he could no longer hold his baby son Eesa, who had arrived in December 2020.

The 37-year-old, who was the youngest patient in his sessions, said: “I attended two NROL sessions a week to help with my upper limb movement and before I started, I struggled to move my arm at all but by the end of the programme I was able to hold my arm across my body, meaning I could hold my son again.

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“NROL was a lifeline because I was seeing familiar faces twice a week online at a time when Covid-19 was stopping me from seeing anybody outside of my house.

"The physios and occupational therapists were very helpful and made us all feel comfortable. The patients were experiencing the same physical movement problems so our sessions allowed us to talk about our issues and we became friends too.”

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Due to the pilot scheme’s success earlier this year, which involved 90 ELHT patients, the programme will now be rolled out to patients within the two counties.

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Project lead Louise Connell is a UCLan Professor of Allied Health Neurorehabilitation and Stroke and she also works for ELHT.

She said: “I’m delighted our scheme is being rolled out to help more people who’ve had a stroke or have other neurological conditions.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people with stroke and other brain injuries are spending less time in hospital and receiving less neurorehabilitation. NROL uses video technology to support patients, via different groups covering cognitive and physical recovery, in their homes to ensure they can continue their recovery.”

Cogs in Motion, a cognitive rehabilitation group; Simply Speaking, a conversational skills group, and a group working on mobility, balance, strength and stamina will be among the sessions.

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Patients will also be invited to weekly Café NROL sessions for general group discussion.

The scheme will involve physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, speech and language therapists and medical and assistant practitioners.

If the regional rollout is deemed a success, a national NROL programme could follow.

Jenny Clarke, co-founder and CEO of SameYou, said: “This grant means that we can continue our work with UCLan and ELHT to support more people, and help them take back their places in their families, communities and society after a brain injury.”

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