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Our  ‘On With Life’ programme is a new Brain Injury Family and Friends Support Network and next week we’re coming to Cavan and Monaghan! On With Life Family and Friends Support Network for people coping with brain injury

We know that caring for a loved one with brain injury can be difficult without any help or support. Many family members and friends are thrust into the role of carer without warning.

How can I find out more?

That’s why we’re here to support you. Read more about On With Life here.

Join us in Cavan and Monaghan next week!

In the meantime, if you’re in Cavan or Monaghan, why not come along and join us?

It’s a great opportunity to meet other people with similar experiences and our experts are on hand with advice and guidance.

We’d love to see you!

On With Life Support Group Meetings:

  • Time: 7.30-9.00pm
  • First Tuesday of the month – 1st October, 5th November, 3rd December
  • Meeting held at the Irish Wheelchair Association Unit 1, Block D, Corlurgan Business Park, Cavan, H12 W667
  • Time: 7.30-9.00pm
  • First Wednesday of the month, 2nd October, 6th November, 4th December
  • CRANOG HSE Resource Centre, Bree, Castleblayney, A75 XW77

Contact details:

For more information, contact Dolores Gallagher on or call 086-0102361.

Find out about more On With Life support group meetings happening around the country here.


New research published in today’s Irish Times showed that 70% of cyclists referred to Ireland’s main centre for treating brain damage, were not wearing a helmet at the time of their injury.

A total of 26 cyclists were sent for treatment at the neurosurgical centre at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. Eighteen out of 26 cyclists referred to the centre, were not wearing helmets.

Mind Your Head – Wear a Helmet cyclists urged to wear a helmet to prevent brain injury

That’s why we are urging all cyclists to ‘Mind Your Head’ and wear a helmet, even if it’s for short journeys.

We’re not surprised by findings

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, our CEO Barbara O’Connell told listeners that the latest research was not surprising because it confirms much of what we already see in our services.

Barbara said: “Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them and yet it happens to 52 people in this country every day. It is well proven that wearing a helmet reduces the severity of the brain injury by absorbing the impact from the collision.

“A helmet won’t prevent every head injury, but it can prevent serious head injuries like skull fractures, and this helps to reduce the amount of time a person spends in recovery and rehabilitation.”

Cycling is good for you and the environment

The last thing we want, is to stop people from cycling which is a great form of exercise, active commuting and pollution-free transport for the environment.

Helmets prevent serious injuries

But from a brain injury point of view, we want every cyclist – young and old – wearing a helmet.

The latest research findings show how serious cycling injuries can be without one. Recovery after brain injury is not easy. A fall off your bike can leave you with a chronic condition affecting your life and the lives of your family for months, years or even decades after the initial injury.

Don’t take that chance. Mind your head and wear a helmet.

Cycling topped the referrals to neurological centre for sporting head injuries

The research also found that cycling had the highest numbers for referral to the neurological centre at 86 cases, followed by Gaelic football at 30 cases and horse riding at 23.

What Australian experts say

According to the national brain injury charity, wearing a helmet is not new advice. As recently as 2016, Australian researchers showed how cycle helmets reduced the risk of serious head injury by nearly 70% and the risk of fatal head injury by 65%.


Today, 26 September, also marks European Day Without A Road Death which encourages motorists to be aware of others using the road and to be particularly mindful of vulnerable road users including cyclists.

Cyclist injuries on Irish roads

Statistics published in 2018 by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) showed that as many as 153 pedal cycle users experienced serious injuries on Irish roads and a further 778 cyclists reported minor injuries.

Helmet wearing was not captured in this data. The RSA’s provisional review of fatal collisions confirmed 9 cyclist fatalities for 2018.

It’s easy to come off your bike

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland also reminded the public that it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a road collision for a cyclist to come of their bike. Other causes can include:

·       Greasy surface

·       Faulty mudguard

·       Bump on the road

·       Cardiac event

You can read more about the research published in today’s Irish Times here.


“Completely insane” and “crazy” was how Áine Carroll, Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCD, described the fact that more than one million people are on waiting lists in our health service.

Call for community health services

In particular, we welcome Professor Carroll’s comments in today’s Irish Times stressing the need for greater focus on the provision of services in community. This would mean a move away from a focus that seems to be “relentlessly hospital-obsessed”.

What’s it like for many brain injury survivors Acquired Brain Injury Ireland community rehabilitation team for brain injury survivors

At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, too often we see too many brain injury survivors forced to live indefinitely in nursing homes or community hospitals without any access to rehabilitation to aid their recovery. Additionally, many more are discharged home to families who are often unable to cope. 19,000 people acquire brain injuries in Ireland annually from stroke, road traffic accidents, falls, assaults and brain tumours.

Benefits of helping to grow our services

Greater investment in our brain injury rehabilitation services in residential, community and clubhouse settings can: free up hospital beds, reduce delayed discharges and improve quality of life for people after brain injury.

Rehabilitation is not care

While our rehabilitation services are distinct from care services, there are times when both are necessary to support the recovery of a brain injury survivor to maximise their potential and rebuild their life as independently as possible.

Imbalance of services

The latest comments by Prof Carroll were made at the launch of new ESRI study which confirmed the large inequalities between counties regarding the supply of home care and residential care. According to today’s Irish Times article, “Eastern counties are generally under-served while Western counties are over-served relative to the average”.


Ignite Fund Social Innovation Fund Ireland Harnessing Ability Award for Step Ahead to help brain injury survivors return to work or education with vocational assessment and support

We are delighted to tell you that Acquired Brain Injury Ireland was selected as one of six organisations to be awarded a grant from the Ignite Fund to help rebuild lives after brain injury.

The Ignite Fund was created by Social Innovation Fund Ireland in partnership with several private philanthropists and the Department of Rural and Community Development. Together these bodies have awarded a total fund of €550,000 to six worthwhile organisations – and we’re one of them!

How the Ignite Fund works

The Department of Rural and Community Development matches funding for all philanthropic funds raised by Social Innovation Fund Ireland from the Dormant Accounts Fund. The Awardees are spread across four separate categories under the themes of ‘Empowering Families’, ‘Youth Resilience’, ‘Harnessing Ability’ and ‘Music to Impact’.

Harnessing Ability

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has received the Ignite Fund Award 2019 to support brain injury survivors returning to work or education after brain injury.  The ‘Harnessing Ability’ Award was supported by philanthropists Ralph and Maureen Parkes and W2 Foundation, for which we are extremely grateful. Thanks to this award, we can expand our new vocational assessment service which was launched earlier this year. Step Ahead is a free of charge vocational assessment service that addresses the challenge of returning to paid employment or training for brain injury survivors.

Making a difference

Our National Services Manager Dr Karen Foley said: “Winning the Ignite Funding is vital to help us expand our Step Ahead vocational assessment service and rebuild lives after brain injury. Our new Step Ahead service, which also receives co-funding by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020, offers essential and practical solutions to support adults returning to work, education or training after brain injury. Often people either cannot access or get the correct vocational supports they need. Thanks to the Ignite funding, we can expand this vital service to brain injury survivors of all ages, so they get the support they need from clinical experts in brain injury.”

Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them

Brain injuries can happen to anyone at any age at any time. They happen every day from causes like stroke, traffic accidents, falls, assault and brain tumours. When a brain injury happens, it can be devastating, both for the individual and for their families. Depending on the severity of the injury and what part of the brain is affected, it can put lives on hold while they undergo intense rehabilitation to relearn everyday activities, they used to do without thinking.

A word from our Minister of State

Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Canney TD said: “It makes me very proud that my Department, through the Dormant Accounts Funds, supports Social Innovation Fund Ireland in the great work they do. I am delighted to be here today to announce the six Awardees of their Ignite Fund. The initiatives each of these projects are developing are truly amazing and it’s wonderful to see them receive the recognition at today’s ceremony.”

A word from our philanthropists

Ralph & Maureen Parkes, philanthropists, and donors to the Ignite Fund said: “We are delighted to support Social Innovation Fund Ireland’s Ignite Fund, especially the Harnessing Ability and Youth Resilience Awards. Each project and charity is unique in its own way and each demonstrates a clearly positive social impact on the fabric of Irish life.”



A new study by Cork University Hospital (CUH) has shown that one year after a concussion injury, more women were still affected by mild brain injury symptoms than men. brain wrapped in a bandage to show concussion

What is Post Concussion Syndrome?

This is known as Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS). It is a mild traumatic brain injury with symptoms including dizziness, depression, headaches and cognitive deficits such as problems with memory, language and thinking.

Patients still living with symptoms a year later

For the most part, the study found that symptoms were resolved in patients within 3 months. But for as many as 45% of patients, they continued to experience post-concussion symptoms up to a year later. People struggled with fatigue,  which is very common after brain injuries. Some patients reported worse dizziness or difficulties with physical functioning.

More women affected with Post Concussion Syndrome

Post concussion syndrome was more prevalent in women and these women reported worse outcomes after their mild traumatic brain injury. This may be somewhat surprising to read because many of us associate brain injury with men. Here in Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, two thirds of our clients are male and the most common causes of brain injury we see are from stroke, road traffic accidents, falls and assaults.

Brain injury rehabilitation may help

The CUH study was a small sample of 112 patients and larger studies will help to draw attention to this widely under-recognised condition. However, the latest study is the start of clear evidence that many people live with the affects of concussion long after their injury. It may mean that following a concussion, many people could benefit from rehabilitation specific to brain injury, like the services we provide, to help with their recovery.

You can read more about this study in today’s Irish Examiner. It was also published in the Irish Medical Journal.

If you are worried that someone is concussed, here are the signs to look out for:

-Person appears dazed or stunned

-Person forgets instruction

-Person answers questions slowly

-Person loses consciousness (even briefly)

-Person forgets events prior to or after fall or hit

-Person moves clumsily

-Shows Mood Behaviour/Personality Change

What steps should I take if someone is concussed?

If you suspect a concussion, complete and utter rest is the most important thing to do.

That means:

-No TV

-No Computers

-No Bright Lights

-No Reading

-No Texting

-No Radio

-No Loud Noise

-No Physical Exercise

-No Alcohol

-No Driving

-No Exertion of any kind

In other words, complete brain rest and sleep.



Don’t miss our Step Ahead roadshow heading ‘Into The West’ this September! That’s right – we’re off to spread the word about our new vocational assessment services for young brain injury survivors in Sligo, Donegal, Mayo and Galway.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland's Step Ahead team launch vocational assessment services nationally with two centres in Cork and Dublin. Pictured here are Senior Occupational Therapists Sinead Stack and Emer Duffy joined by vocational facilitators Lisa Lyons and Valerie Burke.

Our Step Ahead Team

What is Step Ahead?

Step Ahead is Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s new service delivering vocational assessments to support young people aged 18-29 years, who wish to return to work or education after brain injury. Earlier this year we launched Step Ahead thanks to funding from the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. Step Ahead is a national service led by Senior Occupational Therapists in two centres based in Cork and Dublin.

How can I find out more?

This September you can join us for our September roadshow to learn more about Step Ahead in the following locations:

Who can attend the roadshow?

At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we rebuild lives through brain-injury rehabilitation. With our new Step Ahead service, we want to help more young people with brain injuries get the support they need to go back to work or college. That’s why we’re inviting you to come and visit our roadshow this September. Join us if you are:

  • a brain injury survivor aged 18-29 years
  • a family member of a brain injury survivor as above
  • a health or social care professional
  • an employer interested in supporting people after brain injury

What will I learn?

  • How our Step Ahead vocational assessment is a vital starting point to support your return to work or education
  • For healthcare professionals, learn more about the service and how to make referrals

Will I have to travel a lot?

Brain injury survivors from the West of Ireland can attend our Step Ahead centres in Dublin or Cork for an expert vocational assessment. After the assessment, each participant will receive a detailed report to guide them on next steps. As part of our Step Ahead service we also provide  the option of follow-up support via telephone and Skype.

Some interesting facts

  • 19,000 brain injuries happen annually in Ireland from causes such as stroke, road traffic accidents, falls, assault and brain tumours
  • 40% of people with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries are able to return to work after 1 or 2 years after their injury
  • Many brain injury survivors attempt to return to work too soon without having the necessary supports

A word from our experts

Our Senior Occupational Therapist Emer Duffy said: “After a brain injury, an individual’s brain is often working harder than someone who hasn’t gone through such a trauma and so that can cause fatigue, memory problems, frustration and stress. That’s why our new Step Ahead service, with centres in Dublin and Cork, is so vital to help assess where people are at and help them with practical strategies so they can manage their fatigue and cope with stresses that might occur when returning to work or education. We also engage with employers to help with their understanding of brain injury so they know how to better support someone. For many people after brain injury, reasonable accommodations from employers can make all the difference such as allowing someone to return part-time and/or building back up to a five-day week.”

For more information on STEP AHEAD contact Emer Duffy on 086-6037353 or visit