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September is fast approaching which means one thing for commuters trying to get to work – more traffic. Many of you cycle to work and ahead of this busy period we are urging you to wear a helmet at all times, even on short journeys. wearing a helmet to cycle to work to prevent acquired brain injury

Reduce your risk

Wearing a cycle helmet dramatically reduces your risk of a serious head or brain injury in the event of a collision. In Dublin alone, commuter cyclist figures are expected to return to 12,000 people cycling into the city in the mornings.

Last month (July) the Road Safety Authority’s mid-year review confirmed the deaths of six pedal users on Irish roads so far this year. This follows a 50% increase in cyclist fatalities in 2017.

Our Chief Executive Barbara O’Connell, said: “Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them and yet it happens to 35 people in this country every day.  The reality is that regardless of whether you are cycling five minutes or an hour, unforeseen events can happen that can cause you to suddenly come off that bike.

All it takes is a fall off your bike

“With the convenience of services like commuter bikes in our cities, it’s not hard to spot cyclists without helmets. But what those cyclists are not thinking about is that a fall off your bike could leave you with a chronic and ongoing condition that can affect your life and that of your family for months, years and even decades after the initial injury. Wearing a helmet reduces the severity of your brain injury by absorbing the impact from the collision. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time you need to spend in recovery and rehabilitation.”

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

For more about safe cycling, check out the Cycle Right initiative supported by the Department of Transport, Road Safety Authority and Cycling Ireland.


A leading brain expert Dr Bennet Omalu has said that heading a football should be banned for under 18s because of the risk of long term damage to the brain. He stressed that heading a football repeatedly is too dangerous for 12-14 year olds.

In the UK talking to the BBC, Dr Omalu called for ‘headers’ to be banned for younger players altogether and to be restricted in the professional game.

Here in Ireland, our CEO Barbara O’Connell has warned parents to ensure their children know how to head the ball safely and to know the signs of concussion.

Younger brains are still developing and more vulnerable to brain injury.

Our CEO Barbara O’Connell said: “We are very aware of the risk of concussion in soccer which can be the result of heading the Should football headers be banned in under 18s due to risk of concussion and brain injury? Barbara O'Connell recommends parents know the signs of concussion and children are taught to head a football safely. ball, poor tackling or collisions with other players. Research in adults has shown that untreated and repeated concussion does lead to long term damage and even death in the case of second impact syndrome when a player who has been concussed is not taken off the pitch immediately.

“At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland we strongly advocate that children are taught to head the ball correctly and tackle safely and most of all to recognise any symptoms of concussion such as headaches, dizziness slurring of speech, disorientation.  We cannot stress enough that players, coaches and parents are aware of the symptoms of concussion and the return to play guidelines. Players can make a full recovery if treated in the right way immediately following an incident.”

Back in 2015, we saw proactive action taken in the US with the introduction of a heading ban in football for under 10s. The US chose to err on the side of caution to protect children until further evidence is available. Earlier this year UEFA said it would consider a similar ban if more evidence emerges.

At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland we would like to see more research in this area.

Note: You may have heard of Dr Omalu from the movie ‘Concussion’ when he was played by US actor Will Smith. The movie documented Dr Omalu’s discovery of a serious brain condition (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) resulting from repeated head impacts in American Football.



Happy Friday! Today we are celebrating becoming county winners in the National Lottery #GoodCausesAwards for health and wellbeing in not just one, not two but THREE counties. Well done to our services in Wexford, Cavan and Meath who go to the next round for a chance to win €10k for brain injury survivors.

National Lottery Good Causes Acquired Brain Injury Ireland county winnersThe National Lottery competition will involve County and Regional finals, culminating in a National Final which will be a Gala Awards dinner on Saturday 3rd November 2018. So far so good – we’ve made it past the first round and we’re sure the dedication and passion of our super rehab teams will shine through and guide us to the final.

As many of us know, recovering from a brain injury is not easy or quick and every day our rehab teams go the extra mile working on personalised rehab plans to help individuals rebuild their lives and regain independence. Winning this competition will really make a difference to support individuals and families after brain injury.

So watch this space – we’re keeping fingers and toes crossed!

You can read more about the contest here.


Many of you will have heard about the launch of yesterday’s Sláintecare report by the government and wonder what it means for you.

Here in Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we have welcomed the report because in it’s second goal, it confirms that implementation of the neuro-rehabilitation strategy will begin this year in 2018.

We know you’re probably tired of hearing about yet another strategy – so why are welcoming it? Because our own experts worked on the neuro-rehabilitation strategy to help design clearer pathways in our health system. These new pathways will allow people with brain injuries to move through health services more easily as they progress with their recovery and rehabilitation.

Our CEO Barbara O’Connell said: “We welcome the launch of today’s new Sláintecare strategy which confirms in Goal 2, that implementation of the long-awaited neuro-rehabilitation strategy will begin in 2018.

“With 13,000 new traumatic brain injuries in Ireland every year and between 8,000-10,000 strokes occurring annually, timely access to neuro-rehabilitation is crucial. As Sláintecare is implemented, we look forward to greater investment in community rehabilitation for people affected by brain injury to ensure the best chance of recovery to help them back to independent living.

Sláinte Care Implementation Strategy which includes neuro-rehabilitation strategy implementation in Goal 2“Right now thousands of lives are devastated in Ireland every year by brain injuries acquired through falls, road collisions, attempted suicides and strokes resulting in a silent epidemic leaving families struggling to cope and struggling to access services in every corner of the country.

“Clearer pathways for brain injury survivors as outlined in the neuro-rehabilitation strategy will ensure they move through relevant services in a timely fashion. Currently too many cases are stuck on the pathway or placed inappropriately in settings like nursing homes which stops any recovery. We are heartened to hear the priorities for Sláintecare which means people will be able to access care when they need it.”

You can read more about Sláintecare here


Today we welcome news that HIQA and the Mental Health Commission will hold a public consultation process regarding new standards to keep adults safe in health and social care services across Ireland.

This is such an important area to ensure vulnerable adults are fully protected at all times. HIQA and the Mental

Draft national standards for adult safeguarding by HIQA and Mental Health Commission

Draft national standards for adult safeguarding

Health Commission have prepared a draft document on new standards and they are encouraging interested parties to give their views on it.

What does it mean for me?

It means that HIQA and the Mental Health Commission are seeking the views of:

–        People using health and social care services

–        Families of people using these services

–        Staff who work in these services

–        Organisations providing these services

How to give your view on safeguarding standards:

First of all, you will need to read the ‘Draft National Standards for Adult Safeguarding’. This document is prepared by HIQA and the Mental Health Commission and it puts forward measures to reduce the risk of harm for adults arising from abuse, neglect or exploitation in health and social care services in Ireland.

Then you can give your views as part of an online questionnaire.

What does Acquired Brain Injury Ireland think?

We welcome the opportunity to give independent input to the important area of safeguarding as an organisation delivering vital services to brain injury survivors.

Our National Services Manager Donnchadh Whelan said: “Safeguarding Standards are extremely important for insuring protections for people like our clients who can be more vulnerable and at risk after their lives are altered due to brain injury. At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland we employ the highest safety standards at all times and we look forward to giving our input in this extremely vital process to ensure the protection of all vulnerable adults availing of health services in this country.”

What HIQA says:

HIQA’s interim Chief Executive today stated that: “All adults have a right to be safe and to live a life free from harm. The safeguarding standards published today for public consultation focus on actively highlighting, minimising and preventing a wide range of potential harm and are designed to ensure the appropriate standards are in place for all services so they deliver appropriate care and support to adults, particularly those at risk of harm.”