Impact of Acquired Brain Injury

At the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) we are particularly interested in the cognitive, emotional and functional consequences of brain injury and how these might affect outcomes.

Social situations can become difficult to deal with after brain injury and this can result in the individual responding in a manner that is not considered socially appropriate; which makes social cognition a key target area in rehabilitation.

We recently developed the BIRT Social Cognition Questionnaire (BSCQ), a tool designed to assess and monitor behaviour in social situations. In another study, the impact of environmental context was explored. This revealed that patients with brain injury were more likely to be influenced by environmental cues when completing memory recall tasks. Such findings suggest that by using techniques like prompting (e. g. prompting technologies), it may be possible to improve patients’ memory difficulties.

We aim to continue developing studies that help us gain a better understanding of the long-term consequences of brain injury.

Development of new tests and instruments

BIRT develops tests and measures to assess the cognitive and non-cognitive effects of brain injury.

service user in the sensory room at Graham Anderson House

  • The BIRT Memory and Information Processing Battery (BMIPB) is a comprehensive and up-to-date collection of memory and speed of processing tests that is now widely used in the UK and abroad. A study is currently underway to develop a new and improved version.
  • The Brain Injury Needs Indicator (BINI) is a free tool which was developed for use during an adult social care assessment to find out how well someone has recovered from their brain injury and to determine their level of risk. Professionals working with people who sustained a brain injury may find that the information gathered with the tool helpful for matching a person’s needs to the different levels of service available, thus supporting the referral process.
  • The BIRT Regulation of Emotion Questionnaire (BREQ) and the BIRT Motivation Questionnaire (BMQ) have been purposely developed to assess non-cognitive effects of brain injury. Work is currently in progress to develop short-forms of the original scales that may easily be used in day-to-day clinical practice.

Outcomes and Cost Benefits

BIRT has a tradition of systematically evaluating service user’s outcomes following brain injury, and has a keen interest in assessing the global clinical and cost benefits of neurobehavioural rehabilitation.

A study in published in 2013 found that £1.13 million in direct care costs could be saved among those receiving to rehabilitation within a year of sustaining a brain injury, and £0.86 million among those admitted more than one year after the injury. These findings are encouraging, as they demonstrate the benefits of rehabilitation in increasing independence and reducing care needs.

BIRT is also interested in the clinical evaluation of new interventions and treatments. Studies conducted at Graham Anderson House and Ty Aberdafen showed that positive psychology interventions led to increased happiness and mood, which suggests the potential of embedding these new approaches into brain rehabilitation programmes.

support worker shows service user an I-Pad in the therapy room at TEM House

Technology to Support Independent Living

BIRT constantly seeks and evaluates new technologies that can help rehabilitation, support cognition and increase independence. We have been working closely with a number of academic and research institutions to understand which new technologies are most helpful for those with acquired brain injury (ABI).

Dr Brian O’Neill has carried out extensive work in the area. A systematic review, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, highlighted the effectiveness of prompting technologies but it also noted the need for further research and development into technologies to support cognition.

BIRT staff’s interests and contributions to the field include the development and evaluation of automated prompting technology to support activities of daily living, the use of biofeedback to regulate emotion and reduce aggression and the design and evaluation of technology for use in rehabilitation and long-term support