A new parliamentary report says its ‘time for change’ for people with brain injury.

Acquired Brain Injury is an invisible epidemic, and we need to ensure that the neurorehabilitation services required following a brain injury are ‘fit for purpose’ throughout the UK” said Chris Bryant MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Acquired Brain Injury (APPG on ABI) speaking today in London at the launch of a report ‘Time for Change: Acquired Brain Injury and Neurorehabilitation’.

Brain injury survivors, charities including the Trust, clinicians, campaigners, academics and MPs attended the launch of the report in Parliament today.

There are more than 1.3 million people living with the effects of brain injury at a cost to the UK economy of £15 billion per annum or 10% of the National Health Service (NHS) budget. The excellent advances in emergency and acute medicine mean that many more children, young people and adults now survive with an ABI, however, many of these individuals require early and continued access to neurorehabilitation to optimise all aspects of their physical, cognitive, behavioural and psychosocial recovery, and to maximise their long-term potential.

Neurorehabilitation is one of the most cost-effective interventions available on the NHS, but there are large variations in the provision and access to neurorehabilitation services across the UK.

The report outlines the critical role of neurorehabilitation in the ABI care pathway, and the need for Rehabilitation Prescriptions for all brain injury survivors following discharge from acute care so they know what neurorehabilitation they need. The report reviews the implications for children and young people with ABI when most of their neurorehabilitation takes place in the education system.

The high incidence of ABI amongst offenders is discussed, as is the impact of neurorehabilitation on behavioural change and reoffending; the Trust’s recommendations for change within the criminal justice system are also endorsed, as follows:

• Criminal justice procedures, practices and processes need to be reformed to take into account the needs of individuals with Acquired Brain Injury

• Training and information about Acquired Brain Injury is required across all services including the police, court, probation and prison services

• Brain injury screening for children, young people and adults is required on entry to the criminal justice system and, if identified, an assessment of the effects, deficits, severity and impact is required with the appropriate interventions planned and implemented by a trained team

• All agencies working with young people in the criminal justice system, schools, psychologists, psychiatrists, general practitioners and youth offending teams should work together to ensure that all the needs of the individual are addressed

The current issues in sport-related concussion are outlined as well as the need for an improved welfare system that is easily accessible.

The report summarises the key issues and makes several recommendations. Chris Bryant concluded: “ABI impacts on many government departments so a task force is required to address the issues and recommendations as a matter of urgency. The APPG on ABI intends to unite all the departments involved in order to drive change for brain injury survivors”.

Copies of the report can be obtained from: www.ukabif.org.uk/campaigns/appg-report and for more information about brain injury and offending, see the work of the Trust in this area.