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Canoeists with brain injuries undertaking residential rehabilitation at the Lake District

Last Autumn we invited our member law firms to participate in a survey being carried out by Calvert Reconnections and Exchange Chambers, looking at rehabilitation following brain injury.

It’s an important subject, every year over 300,000 people suffer life-changing brain injuries and it can be a long and difficult road to recovery with rehabilitation provision within the NHS varying greatly across the country.

Not enough residential-based rehabilitation units/programmes in the UK

164 brain injury solicitors responded to the survey, 71% taking part said that the NHS is unable to provide effective rehabilitation for brain injured clients.

A staggering 97% of respondents answered that they did not believe there were enough residential-based rehabilitation units/programmes in the UK.

The vast majority (97%) of solicitors do not believe there are enough residential-based rehabilitation units / programmes in the UK.

Ineffective residential rehabilitation programmes

Residential rehabilitation is not suitable for all, every person has different needs and requirements, and this was seen when respondents were asked whether residential rehabilitation programmes were effective for brain injured patients, only 12% responded yes, with 88% stating it depended on the circumstances.

The majority (71%) of solicitors do not believe the NHS is able to provide effective rehabilitation for seriously brain injured patients.

‘I’m not at all surprised that the majority say NHS rehabilitation is inadequate. Acute care is often very good but subsequent rehabilitation can be hit and miss, doubtless because of shortage of money. That’s why the private and charitable sectors are so important.’ – Bill Braithwaite QC

Outdoor activities and brain injury rehabilitation

The survey went on to question solicitors whether they currently include outdoor activities in rehabilitation plans for brain injured clients, of which 20% of respondents replied yes, 30% no and 50% sometimes, drawing the conclusion that inclusion of outdoor activities in rehabilitation plans is not commonplace. Of those who do not include outdoor activities, 45% of respondents attributed this to a lack of brain injury units offering outdoor activities.

The majority (70%) of solicitors believe the Rehabilitation Code should be made compulsory.

The benefits of outdoor activities in brain injury rehabilitation plans

Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Exchange Chambers and a regular speaker at our training days over the past 8 years, commented:

‘There is considerable support from medical research for the notion that outdoor activity is helpful in brain injury rehabilitation. It is not commonly available however.’

He went on, ‘Part of the process of change has been the way in which rehabilitation units are run. Historically, they tended to be quite institutionalised, whereas there has been a move away from that approach wherever possible. I always think that we should look beyond the traditional rehab routes, and one area of real interest to me is the positive role which outdoor activities can play in brain injury rehabilitation.’

Solicitors believe walking / rambling / fell walking is the most effective outdoor activity for brain injury rehabilitation. Fishing, horse riding and gardening also score highly.

Find brain injury residential rehabilitation facilities

Residential rehabilitation & care

Calvert Reconnections – what is it?

This spring, a new rehabilitation facility for adults with an acquired brain injury (‘ABI’) will be opening its doors near the bustling market town of Keswick, in the beautiful Lake District which is focussed on ‘learning through doing in the outdoors’, combining clinical therapies and outdoor activities. Set in a converted Grade II listed building (once the home of William Wordsworth), Calvert Reconnections will accommodate a maximum of 15 participants at one time.

Centre Director, Sean Day, explained for us the concept behind Calvert Reconnections’ rehabilitation programme ‘Our focus will be on delivering clinical therapies alongside experienced activity instructors utilising challenging outdoor activities to support individuals in their recovery from brain injury. This will be combined with making strong connections with the local community to seek out experiental and vocational opportunities to enable ABI survivors to achieve their true potential’.

Calvert Reconnections is part of the charity The Lake District Calvert Trust, set up in 1976 to enable people with disabilities to benefit from outdoor activities in the countryside.

What can participants at Calvert Reconnections expect?

The programme has been designed with the assistance of respected clinicians and academics and accepts referrals from individuals themselves, carers, family members or professionals working with individuals who have an acquired brain injury.

Following an initial assessment at home with family, packages are tailored to the individual’s needs, lasting between 10 and 24 weeks, based on clinical and research guidance to include a wide range of physical activities.

Outdoor activities available at Calvert Reconnections will include canoeing, kayaking, sailing, theatre by the lake, horse riding, handbiking and cycling, high ropes course, fishing, rock climbing and of course walking and exploring the beautiful surroundings.

As the programme nears its end, a full review of achievements, future goals and strategies will be carried out with all parties involved in the client’s rehabilitation to ensure support and transition from the Centre and that skills and progress achieved are maintained.

Further findings of Calvert Reconnections/Exchange Chambers Survey

Key findings from the survey by Calvert Reconnections and Exchange Chambers found that:

  • Solicitors believe walking/rambling/fell walking to be the most effective outdoor activity for brain injury rehabilitation, with fishing, horse riding and gardening also scoring highly.
  • There remains resistance from defence solicitors and insurers when it comes to including outdoor activities in rehabilitation plans.
  • 61% of solicitors do not believe there are enough suitably qualified brain injury case managers in the UK.
  • The majority of solicitors believe the Rehabilitation Code should be made compulsory.
The full survey results

Recovery prospects of brain injured patients jeopardised by chronic lack of resources
See the full results of the survey on residential rehabilitation in the United Kingdom.
Download Recovery prospects of brain injured patients jeopardised by chronic lack of resources (341.8 KiB)

Find a Brain Injury Group approved brain injury solicitor

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Bill Braithwaite QC

Bill Braithwaite QC is Head of Chambers at Exchange Chambers. He is one of the leading catastrophic injury barristers in the UK and is trustee of the Lake District Calvert Trust and expert adviser to Calvert Reconnections.

Find full details of Calvert Reconnections in our Brain Injury Group brain injury services A-Z directory.

LAWS – providing initial free legal advice

Legal & Welfare Service (LAWS) online for brain injury help, advice and support

What is the Brain Injury Group?

Brain Injury Group is a free service designed to connect those affected by a brain injury (whether there is a claim or not) to a range of experts who may be able to offer advice and assistance.

If you’d like to find out more about the work of Brain Injury Group, you are at the right place! You can follow the links below to:

The Brain Injury Group exists to support individuals and families affected by brain injury and the health & social care professionals working in this specialist field. Our mission is to provide anyone affected by brain injury with access to advice on legal, financial and welfare benefit issues. Advice delivered by proven experts in their field who have been chosen not only for their skills and knowledge, but also for their passion and dedication to helping people.

As well as providing legal and welfare advice, Brain Injury Group provide training for legal, health and social care professionals. View our award winning Brain Injury Group brain injury training events.

The Brain Injury Group brain injury directory

The BIG Brain Injury Services Directory

How can Brain Injury Group help you?

If you would like advice about bringing a brain injury claim, capacity, deputyships, managing the award of compensation or any other aspect of brain injury welfare, legal or financial advice, we have specialist brain injury solicitors and Court of Protection solicitors who can assist.

You can find full details of Brain Injury Group members on our website or there are several ways to get in touch:

  1. Call us on 0800 612 9660 or 03303 112541
  2. Email us at
  3. Complete this short enquiry form and we’ll get back to you
  4. Find a specialist brain injury solicitor near to you
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