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Depression after a brain injury like stroke, is common. It can be related to the change in the way the brain works or tips to manage depression after acquired brain injury or stroketo your emotional reaction to your new situation, or both.

Additionally, you may be suffering from fatigue. Feeling tired is very common after a stroke – you may feel too tired to do things, things you used to enjoy and this can get you down. Four in 10 people experience depression in the first few months after stroke. It can also affect close family members who learning how to cope as well.

The first thing to realise, is that you’re not on your own. This week to mark National Stroke Survivor day – we’re here to help with practical steps to boost your mental wellbeing.

Structured routine

We all need a sense of purpose and having a daily routine is very important for our sense of purpose in our day.

Keeping in contact with friends and family

When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to fall into a trap of not wanting to see anyone or talk to anyone. But this is exactly the time to force yourself to do the opposite of what you feel and arrange to see friends or family. Visiting or seeing friends and family is an important part of your routine and the more you stay in contact, the better you will feel.

Do things you like to do Do what makes you happy like gardening.

Ask yourself – what makes me feel good? What do I enjoy doing? Now put a plan in place to do the those things that give you pleasure. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – it may be simple things like getting out in the garden.

Talk about it

It’s good to talk about your feelings with someone you feel comfortable with. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one and having the support of someone you trust will make you feel better and may help you see things differently. You should also discuss your depression with your GP or Health Care Professional. There are many types of treatment that can help.

Be healthy

Eating unhealthy foods can add to feelings of fatigue or sluggishness or consuming too much caffeine can affect sleep patterns. Making an effort to eat healthily by aiming to eat 5 fruit and veg a day and cutting down on foods high in sugar, salt and fat, can help your energy levels. Additionally, getting regular exercise will make you feel good. It’s a good goal to build up to 30 minutes a day.




To mark National Stroke Survivor Day this week, we are focusing on acquired brain injury caused by stroke. Many people think a stroke only happens to older people but here at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we see brain injuries caused by stroke in people of working age between 18 and 65 years. Nationally, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 strokes happen to younger people. Worryingly, a recent study showed a 26% increase in strokes under 65.

Depression and stroke

The sudden shock of a stroke can turn life upside down both for the individual and their family around them. About 40% of stroke patients experience depression in those first few months after their stroke.

Trigger points

Our on-the-ground rehabilitation assistant Carolina Dominguez is an expert in dealing with stroke and how it can affect relationships. Having worked with many brain injury survivors affected by stroke, she has identified two key points of vulnerability in their recovery that can trigger depression.

Carolina Dominguez Rehabilitation Assistant with Acquired Brain Injury IrelandTrigger 1

She said: “There is a recovery ‘spurt’ that happens in the first three to six months after stroke, where brain injury survivors can make good progress in a short space of time. But the reality is that after this period, recovery becomes more gradual. This slower pace of recovery is often difficult and frustrating for people to accept which can affect their emotional wellbeing. Working with people on their recovery goals, we take care to make our brain injury survivors aware that recovery happens more slowly after the initial period and that this is perfectly normal.”

Trigger 2

At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, our aim is to empower brain injury survivors to live life as independently as possible. However achieving the ultimate goal of independence can also bring feelings of abandonment and this is another potential trigger for depression.

Ms Dominguez added: “When the rehabilitation team decides that their input is no longer required, a person may feel abandoned. So it’s important that this transition is carefully explained so we can reassure individuals that the team has put the tools in place that allows them to continue and maintain the progress achieved.”


Every brain injury is unique and it’s important to remember that not everyone recovers at the same rate. See more about how long symptoms last here.

Our Rehabilitation Assistants Carolina Dominguez and Eugene Murphy presented on ‘Relationship and intimacy after stroke’ at the National Stroke Survivor Day 2018.



Do you enjoy cycling? Do you remember your helmet every time you go out? With road cycling accidents on the cyclists wearing helmets at lough gill sligo charity cycle. Helmets reduce brain injuries and should be compulsory.increase wearing one can help you avoid serious brain injury, writes Margaret Hawkins. Not everyone who cycles wears a helmet and it is not compulsory in Ireland but is that a wise move?

No, according to Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABII). If you are looking for proof that it is more than a good idea just think of the 50% increase in fatalities among pedal cyclists in 2017.

The latest recorded injures by the Road Safety Authority also showed that 107 pedal cycle users experienced serious injuries while 755 had minor injuries. Unfortunately there is no record of how many pedal cyclists involved in all these accidents wore helmets. This is in contrast to motorbike and vehicle accidents where seat belt usage and crash helmet use is noted.

“Brain injury is a hidden phenomenon in our society,” says Barbara O’Connell, CEO of ABI Ireland. “It happens to 35 people in this country every day, often leaving them with a chronic and ongoing condition that can affect their lives and those of their family for months, years and even decades after the initial injury.”

An estimated 13,000 people acquire a brain injury every year in Ireland and these can be the result of stroke, assault, concussion, viral infections and road traffic accidents including pedal cycling accidents.

Wearing a helmet when cycling dramatically reduces the risk of a serious head or brain injury in the event of a collision, the CEO says.

“Wearing a helmet reduces the severity of the brain injury by absorbing the impact from the collision. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time a person spends in recovery and rehabilitation. The reality is that regardless of whether people are cycling for leisure or commuting or taking part in a race, unforeseen events can happen that can cause any cyclist to suddenly come off that bike. When that happens, especially if it’s at speed, they will have no control about how they hit the ground or impact their head.”

Brain injuries are not always caused by highly dramatic events either, she points out.

“Many are simply unforeseen. We have seen situations where an individual was cycling home and a pedestrian suddenly stepped out in front of him causing a collision. That individual was not wearing a helmet and is now in a wheelchair going through rehabilitation both physically and to tackle neuro-deficits such as impaired memory and speech.”

The CEO is not making up the importance of a helmet.

Australian researchers in 2016 showed that cycle helmets reduced the risk of serious head injury, for example, by nearly 70% and that of fatal head injury by 65%.

At an international safety conference in Finland they therefore pushed for all countries to develop strategies to improve helmet-wearing as part of any national cycling safety plans. Researchers at Cardiff University in Wales emphasised helmet importance too, finding that they protect riders from skull fractures and brain bruising and swelling. But are helmets turning people off taking up cycling because it gives the impression of a dangerous activity?

Some public health experts have suggested that the emphasis on helmet wear is putting people off taking up cycling and therefore stopping them trying to tackle their obesity problems. The Cochrane Review found no scientific evidence to show that mandatory cycle helmet laws discourage cycling or that cyclists who wear them take more risks on the road.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland wants to see cycle helmets being compulsory.

“They are proven to be of benefit in preventing serious brain injuries. We would advocate wearing them even for short journeys. Coming off a bike and risking an injury to the head can happen at any time even during a short commuter bike rental or cycle for leisure. In our view, wearing a helmet is a no-brainer. It’s really not worth the risk of going without one.”

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is Ireland’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury.

Cycling safety booklet from Road Safety Authority

Article provided courtesy of the Irish Farmers Journal.





At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, our ethos is all about a person-centred approach, which means the people we serve are at the centre of everything we do. One aspect of our day to day work, which is often hidden, is the advocacy we undertake on behalf of our brain injury survivors to ensure they get the best support, services and opportunities to fulfil their potential and meet their own personal goals.

New premises

advocating new premises for brain injury survivors

A current example is where we are working closely with the HSE and a local County Council housing authority to provide new premises because one of our centres no longer meets the regulatory requirements under HIQA. Having any centre below par is not an option for us, which is why we have been working tirelessly over the last number of years to rectify this situation and continue to do so.

Good news

The good news is, our efforts have paid off. We have managed to secure funding to move the service to a purpose-built, new build. Plans are being made to commence work but the long process in securing that funding has resulted in a HIQA finding of unsuitable premises. Maintaining a high-quality service for our brain injury survivors is crucial and we prioritise their welfare and safety at every turn.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland runs a number of residential services nationwide which are registered with HIQA (the Health Information and Quality Authority) and monitored under the Health Act. We can reassure all our supporters that Acquired Brain Injury Ireland continues to prioritise mitigation of any risk to residents, staff members or visitors in this interim period, and we are working towards a solution that will satisfy all regulatory requirements while we look forward to our new purpose-built residential service.

To learn more about HIQA monitoring see


We are happy to announce that Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is rolling out two new dedicated community neuro-rehabilitation services in Cavan and Roscommon this year.

Every year in Ireland an estimated 13,000 people acquire a brain injury resulting in life-altering, dramatic change. These injuries happen suddenly and are often traumatic, caused by road traffic accidents, stroke, assaults, concussion and viral infections like meningitis.

At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we know early access to community rehabilitation services is vital to ensure brain injury survivors can start to rebuild their functional, behavioural or cognitive skills at home after they leave hospital.

Barbara O'Connell Chief Executive Acquired Brain Injury Ireland talking about the importance of community neuro-rehabilitation

Barbara O’Connell, Chief Executive

Barbara O’Connell, Chief Executive, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland said: “Brain injury is a hidden phenomenon in our society and nobody ever thinks it will happen to them. But it happens to 35 people in this country every day, often leaving them with a chronic and ongoing condition that can affect their lives and those of their family for months, years and even decades after the initial injury.

“Too often people who acquire brain injuries are young and left in appropriate settings such as nursing homes, community hospitals or at home where families are unable to cope. At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we know the difference it makes to have access to neuro-rehabilitation services in community to work on a person’s psychological, social, cognitive and mobility issues in their own environment as they work to rebuild their lives. We are delighted to bring new services to Cavan and Roscommon this year not only to help more survivors but also to give their families receive the necessary clinical support in their role as carers.”

The new Community Neurorehabilitation pilot service in Roscommon is a very positive development in the area and builds on the Resource Centre currently operating in Roscommon Town since 2014.

In Cavan, the Community Neurorehabilitation service due to commence late spring/early summer will be in addition to the Case Management Service provided by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland on behalf of the HSE across the Cavan and Monaghan areas since 2006. For more than a decade, the case management service has been a vital link for individuals and their families in navigating services from acute to community settings to prevent brain injury survivors ‘falling through the net’.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is Ireland’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65 years) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury. At any one time, the national not-for-profit organisation delivers dedicated individual rehabilitation to an estimated 1,100 people, helping them to rebuild their lives.


Media queries to:

Caroline Cullen, Communications & Engagement Manager

T: 01-2804164