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Rehabilitation is a right, not a request: An appalling lack of brain injury rehabilitation services is devastating thousands of brain injury survivors and their families across the country who are left merely to exist.

Barbara O'Connell CEO Acquired Brain Injury Ireland with brain injury survivor Niamh Cahill outside Dail gates calling for more funding for community rehabilitation“Don’t Save Me, Then Leave Me,” was the wake-up call we delivered to politicians today. We presented the case for urgent investment in regional neuro-rehabilitation services in the Dáil AV Room.

Forced to live in nursing homes

19,000 new brain injuries are acquired in Ireland annually from causes including stroke, road traffic accidents, falls, assaults and brain tumours. But despite more people surviving the major trauma of a brain injury, many young brain injury survivors are forced to live indefinitely in nursing homes or community hospitals without access to any rehabilitation to aid their recovery.

No specialist rehab beds outside Dublin

Additionally, many more are discharged home to families who are often unable to cope and struggling to understand the aftermath of brain injury. If you have a brain injury outside Dublin, there are no specialist rehabilitation beds available regionally. This is despite the need for regional rehabilitation centres being clearly outlined in the Neuro-Rehabilitation Strategy in 2011 and confirmed again in the 2019 Neuro Rehabilitation Implementation Framework.

Urgent call for regional rehab centre

Today we called on politicians to support our proposal to deliver Ireland’s first Regional Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre and support families in crisis after brain injury. Our centre will offer specialist in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation for people with an acquired brain injury in a 25-bedded centre.

Families are pushed to breaking point

Barbara O’Connell, Chief Executive with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland said: “This country cannot continue to save a life on the one hand, but then rob their quality of life on the other hand by not providing rehabilitation to brain injury survivors. Without investment in rehabilitation, our hospitals are clogged up unnecessarily by keeping brain injury survivors in acute beds that don’t need to be there. Families are pushed to breaking point because of severe under-resourcing of brain injury rehabilitation. The reality is if you have a brain injury outside of Dublin, there are no specialist beds for you.”

Fill a vital rehabilitation gap

Ms O’Connell added: “That’s why we’re calling on the government to support our proposal to establish a regional neuro-rehabilitation centre. Nothing like this exists in the regions which is a major source of crisis for families stuck without a brain injury rehabilitation pathway. Our proposal is in full alignment with the Government’s Sláintecare plan. It will fill a vital rehabilitation gap for families, guiding their loved ones with brain injury back to live in their own communities and out of high-cost care that does nothing to aid recovery after brain injury.”

Eight years waiting for action on national strategy

According to the national brain injury charity, lack of action on the long-awaited neuro-rehabilitation implementation plan means too many young brain injury survivors are wrongfully placed in settings like nursing homes and community hospitals.

Too many still placed in a nursing home

One young brain injury survivor told politicians how he was institutionalised for seven years at just 35 years old, without access to rehabilitation in that time. After suffering a brain injury due to complications with diabetes, Ian Kelly initially received intense rehabilitation at the National Rehabilitation Hospital for three months. But then he was discharged back to Tallaght Hospital where he remained stuck for a year and a half until he was then discharged to a nursing home for five years. According to Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, this is a clear example of the inflexible funding model in our health system that failed to provide an appropriate rehabilitation place for Ian.

Read Ian’s story

Now, 45 years old, Ian said: “When I was in the nursing home, I lived on a ward for five years. I only had a bed and a locker to myself. For five years I lived with older people. I had no rehabilitation and no independence. It wasn’t until 2014 that I was able to take up a residential rehabilitation place with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland. At first I found it difficult to adjust to living in a house after being institutionalised for so long in hospital wards. But the staff were brilliant and supported me in my goals to live independently.”

Last November (2018) Ian moved into an apartment where he lives independently with support from an Acquired Brain Injury Ireland keyworker who visits twice a week.

Ian added: “Acquired Brain Injury Ireland gave me my life back. Without their help, I don’t know where I would be now, probably still sitting in a nursing home with no future and just waking up and going through the motions every day.”

100,000 living with effects of brain injury

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has called on Government to prioritise investment in their regional neuro-rehabilitation centre in 2020. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people in Ireland are living with the consequences of brain injury at any given time.

It’s a lottery to get rehab services

Ms O Connell stressed to politicians how it’s a lottery for brain injury survivors getting access to neuro-rehabilitation services which is having a detrimental impact on the lives of brain injury survivors and their families.

Benefits of our proposed Regional Neuro-Rehabilitation Centre:

  • Remove ‘bed-blockers’ and free up acute beds. Take brain injury survivors out of acute hospitals who don’t need to be there.
  • Free up places in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) and reduce NRH waiting list. Take people who have completed their medical rehabilitation or straight from the waiting list.
  • The centre will provide specialist brain injury rehabilitation that will ensure people reach their maximum potential.
  • The centre will reduce the burden on families who are struggling to cope.
  • The centre will save money across our health services by providing timely access to rehabilitation and improving the flow of people from hospital to home.

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

Learn more about our presentation to politicians here.


Media queries to:

Caroline Cullen, Communications and Engagement Manager, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

Mob: 087-2491332 Tel: 01-2804164 ext 260 E:

Pictures taken by Mark Stedman.





This week our On With Life Support Groups for families are coming to Kilkenny, Laois and Tipperary! On With Life Family and Friends Support Network for people coping with brain injury

What is On With Life?

On With Life is a dedicated support initiative for family and friends affected by brain injury.

Support for families

We recognise the importance of supporting family and friends as you learn to cope with the challenges after your loved one has a brain injury. Our new brain injury network On With Life is here to support families and friends by providing information, guidance and support on this journey.

Living with and caring for someone with a brain injury is a life-changing event. When a brain injury happens, it can be devastating, both for the individual and for family members just like you. It can put lives on hold while your loved one undergoes intense rehabilitation to relearn things, they used to do without thinking. Relationships are an essential part of any brain injury recovery. We are here to say, you are not alone.

Laois Support Group Meeting:

  • Date: 8th October
  • Time: 7.30pm-9.00pm
  • Location: St. Peter & Paul’s Parish Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise

Kilkenny Support Group Meeting:

  • Date: 10th October
  • Time: 7.00pm-8.00pm
  • Location: St. Patrick’s Parish Centre, Loughboy, Kilkenny

Tipperary Support Group Meetings:

  • Date: 9th October
  • Time: 7.30pm-9.00pm
  • Location: Silver Arch Resource Centre, 52 Silver Street, Nenagh 


  • Date: 10th October
  • Time: 2.30pm-3.30pm
  • Location: Acquired Brain Injury Ireland Offices, St Luke’s Hospital, St. Theresa’s Wing, Western Road, Clonmel

Families can become carers overnight

On With Life Support Group Co-ordinator Dolores Gallagher said: “Many family members and friends are thrust into the role of carer without warning. In addition, many of you may also be looking out for the health and wellbeing of other family members. Or you may have a job outside the home. Juggling all these challenges is not easy. We’re here to help you get ‘On With Life’.”

Benefits of our support groups

Ms Gallagher outlined the benefits of joining the On With Life support network:

  • opportunity to meet people who understand what you’re going through and share the reality of living with an acquired brain injury in the family, in a safe place
  • receive information on steps to take to keep yourself physically and emotionally healthy.
  • receive practical guidance how to meet family needs or juggling your job

Who can join?

On With Life is open to family members and friends of brain injury survivors in Laois. Attendees do not have to be previously involved with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland services. All are welcome.

Thanks to our funders

The On With Life project was approved by Government with support from the Dormant Accounts Fund. Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is the nation’s leading provider of community-based rehabilitation for people with acquired brain injuries.

Find out more

For more information about On With Life support groups see  or contact Dolores Gallagher on or call 086-0102361.



Clane 10k organising committee raising funds in aid of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland inspired by Jack Fadden's brain injury.

Clane 10k volunteers, left to right: Noel Haverty, Conor McCaffery, Danny Egan, Karle O Sullivan, Brian Keating, Jack Fadden, Marian O’Neill (Local Services Manager with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland), Karl Martin, Rachel Sweeney, Rob Eyres and Daryl Skelly.

Run towards a better you in the upcoming Clane 10k run on 9 November organised in aid of our charity. This marks the fourth year of this sell-out event sponsored by T&I Fitouts. You are strongly advised to register as soon as possible to secure a place and avoid disappointment. Last year more than 750 runners and walkers took part and this year, it is going to grow even bigger. The Clane 10k has already become a firm favourite on the Irish running calendar. Don’t miss your chance to take part!

Amazing funds raised!

Thanks to the incredible organising committee and all the people in Clane who have supported this 10k race because thanks to everyone’s efforts, the Clane 10k has raised  almost €60k raised to date!! Imagine! Every cent of this money received by our charity goes towards making life better for brain injury survivors in Kildare, West Dublin and right across Ireland.

5k Family Fun Run

To ensure there is something for everyone and to cater for all levels, a 5k Family Fun Run will also take place on 9th November. So why not come and join in the fun with all the family. We don’t mind if you walk, skip, jump or roll your way to the finish line. It’s the taking part that counts! Register your family now!


The Clane 10k is a special event inspired by young brain injury survivor Jack Fadden who suffered a bleed on the brain when he was just 21 years of age. The courage and resilience of the young Kildare native inspired his friends to organise the Clane 10k fundraiser. Their goal is to ensure more people like Jack get the rehabilitation they need to recover after brain injury.

Let’s make life better for brain injury survivors

Organiser Conor McCaffrey said: “The Clane 10k was borne out of a need to do something to make life better for people after brain injury. As friends of Jack, we saw the struggles he went through after his injury. We also saw the incredible strides he made with support from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and his keyworker Aidan. He showed amazing determination to make progress in his rehabilitation.

“Organising this event is our way to give something back to the community and help more brain injury survivors in Ireland. Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them. But it can happen to you or me or your family. We hope everyone will come out to join us in Clane on 9 November, for a 10k run or the 5k fun run to raise vital funds for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland. It’s a great day out for all the family.”

How to register

  • Registrations are open now on
  • Search for the Clane 10k event.
  • Entry fees cover all levels of participant: €25 per 10km entry, €20 per 5km entry and €50 per family entry (2 x adults, 2 x children).

Our thanks to the Clane 10k Volunteers!

Our Head of Fundraising Jonathan Power said: “Organising an event on this scale is an enormous task. We are extremely grateful to the Clane 10k organising committee for volunteering their time and energy to deliver a first-class running event that continues to grow from strength to strength. Every day in Ireland, 52 people acquire a brain injury from stroke, road traffic accidents, falls and assaults. We believe every brain injury is unique and we champion personalised rehabilitation plans for all our clients. Ultimately our goal is that our clients won’t need us anymore. The funds raised from this event make an enormous difference to our rehabilitation services to maximise the potential of brain injury survivors to live as independently as possible.”

So join us – 9th November!

Clane 10k & 5k Family Fun Run 2019, 9 November, 10.00am. Entrants receive a technical t-shirt and bespoke medal. Post-race refreshments provided courtesy of Clane GAA. Register to take part with

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