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We’re advising our staff and our clients to limit their news intake every day to help reduce anxiety, worry or stress. The Coronavirus pandemic is changing daily and with so many news outlets pushing information, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or that you can’t switch off. For many of us, watching too much news and particularly news that is upsetting, can result in disrupted sleep at night or feelings of anxiety and stress. But there are steps we can take to cope with COVID anxiety.

Let’s limit our news intake together

Experts say that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit if it’s not too hard. So let’s make today, the first day you start to limit your news. Choose a trusted source and choose one or two times in the day that you will allow yourself to read, watch or listen to the news. Rinse and repeat – do this every day for 21 days!

Do this for 21 days:

  • avoid watching 24-hour news all day
  • decide you will only watch/read/listen to the news once or twice a day
  • limit your exposure to graphic news stories or images
  • get accurate information from trusted sources

Trusted sources:

Communication is important during a crisis so people know what’s going on. But of course we all live in an age where there is endless news available because the internet doesn’t sleep. There are so many places to get information – newspapers, TV, internet, social media, messages from friends and family. You feel like you’re always on or always behind. Is that story true? Or is it a rumour? Do they know something I don’t know? The trusted sources we recommend are as follows:


Nobody saw it coming. The coronavirus has taken the world by surprise and it seems as though our lives have changed overnight. Our routines have changed, our ability to interact with each other has changed and every day the news is changing and there is new information that we all have to learn and understand. It’s not surprising that with so much change happening so quickly, that this is a cause of stress or anxiety to many of us. That’s why our psychologist is here to help us understand what we can do to make it easier to cope with life during COVID-19.

Wise words

Here are some wise words from our Principal Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr Brian Waldron: “We can’t control everything in our lives and the current Coronavirus pandemic is a major example.  The fact is, that there is and will be, for some time to come, an additional “anxiety pandemic” for all of us. But there are things we can do help manage and contain the emotional impact.”

Tips to reduce anxiety:

  • Limit your news intake to once or twice a day. Avoid watching 24-hour news all day
  • Practice stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness or breathing exercises
  • Choose a ‘worry time’ in your day for 20 minutes. Use this time to write down your worries and what actions you can take. This helps to contain worry.
  • Talk to your family and friends and share your thoughts and feelings
  • Take practical actions to reduce your stress like writing your shopping list or ordering your prescription
  • Keep well physically – eat a healthy diet and get out for a brisk walk for at least 30 mins a day while respecting social distancing
  • Keep your daily routine as normal as possible – get up at the same time each day and keep your mealtimes.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol which can disrupt your sleep

Myths about worry:

Dr Waldron says: “People have both positive and negative beliefs about worry. On the negative side, you might  believe that you have no control over worry, that worrying is dangerous, and that you could ‘lose it’, go mad or crack up. The good news is that none of these beliefs are true. Worrying isn’t dangerous and you won’t go mad from worrying. People also hold more subtle positive beliefs about worrying such as that it helps with problem solving, reduces stress, promotes coping and helps them be prepared. The fact is that constant worrying about a problem like the Coronavirus, doesn’t help with the problem.”

Create worry time

It’s a good idea to create a ‘worry time’ in your day. What is it?

  • max 30 or 40 minutes at a set time each day
  • a time to note down your thoughts, fears or any practical actions you plan to take
  • once the time is up, put down your pen and do something else

Benefits of having a ‘worry time’

  • helps to contain worry and prevent you constantly thinking about a problem all day long
  • it allows you to postpone your worry until your ‘worry time’ and get on with your life the rest of the time
  • it gives you focus to your worry – time to think about it, acknowledge the worry and think of actions to take
  • Ask yourself is the problem solvable? Or is it out of your control?
  • By doing it every day, this is taking action in itself and you will feel much better






The Coronavirus crisis is a difficult time for everyone and it is an extra challenge for family carers living with a loved one with brain injury. For many brain injury survivors, keeping to a routine is important. But now with restrictions on movement and having to adapt to social distancing, everyone’s lives are disrupted and this is not easy.

Call us for support

We want you to know that our On With Life Family and Friends Support Network is here for you. If you’re worried, frustrated, stressed or feeling isolated, call us. A problem shared is a problem halved. It can help to talk to someone who understands about brain injury and what you’re going through. It can also help to talk to someone that is not your family. We’re here for you.

Call us for practical advice

The Coronavirus pandemic is changing daily and you may be feeling overwhelmed by the news updates and advice. If you’re unsure of what to do, call us or drop an email to Dolores on

Or log on to the HSE website for the latest health advice about symptoms and self isolation.

Daily phone support for you

It’s good to talk. Our On With Life coordinator Dolores is available daily, Monday to Friday between these hours:

  • Mornings, 11am to 1pm
  • Afternoons, 2pm to 4pm

So don’t hesitate to call us.




As we draw a close to National Brain Awareness Week we have one message to all our families, supporters and followers – stay 2 metres apart from other people.

What is social distancing?

It literally means keeping your distance from other people when you’re out and about. The national advice is to keep 2 metres or 6 feet apart from other people.

Keep your distance out on walks

It’s good advice because it helps us to understand that we need to keep a good distance from people to prevent spreading infection. In practical terms, this means walking far apart from other people if you’re out getting fresh air.

Stand further back in a shopping queue

If you have to go to the shops, our natural instinct is to queue close together. But with social distance, try to remember to stand back. It won’t always be possible to keep a distance of 2 metres but do your best to keep at least one metre apart when you’re in a more confined space, such as a shop. One medical expert said it helps to imagine you have the virus already and think about how you will act to prevent giving it to other people.

No physical contact

As part of social distancing, you should avoid any close contact with other people outside of your family unit. So no shaking hands or hugging people. Wave from a safe distance (2 metres/6 feet).

Why social distancing is important

All it takes is 15 minutes in close contact within 1 or 2 metres of someone who has the coronavirus to be at risk from the illness yourself or to risk spreading it to others. Below is a graphic that shows the more we all do our part and reduce our exposure to other people, dramatically less people will be infected.



Throughout the Coronavirus health crisis, our rehab experts and frontline teams continue to keep essential services running. This includes our individual one-to-one support for Step Ahead participants who are looking to retrain or get back to work after their brain injury.

Thinking outside the box

As we all try to flatten the curve of the virus and prevent it spreading to vulnerable people in our communities, our Step Ahead team is using a mix of phone, email and video calls to deliver vocational rehab support to participants.

Keeping you safe

Health and safety is our number one priority for both you and our staff. This means avoiding face to face meetings and replacing these with phone calls or video calls.

Learning new skills

As with every challenge there is also opportunity. Our Step Ahead participants are excited to use different communication tools to avoid missing their rehabilitation sessions. Remote support brings an opportunity to build confidence using online tools to communicate.

Tools you can use to keep in touch with others

Feeling confident using online communication tools like video calls to keep up with Step Ahead rehab support, means our participants will also know how to stay in touch with friends and family during this time of social distancing.

Referrals and enquiries

Step Ahead continues to accept referrals for new clients and to manage enquiries. However Individual Assessments for new participants are on hold until infection control measures are relieved.

Step Ahead video

As part of National Brain Awareness Week, our Step Ahead participant Chloe joined our Senior Occupational Therapist Emer Duffy to share her experience of the programme and raise awareness of our service. Well worth a watch! See below.

Chloe shares why Step Ahead is important to her

“Having people supporting you was more necessary than I realised. I’m open to change now. It’s been 12 years since my accident. I have no idea what happens next but I do know you have to work towards it. I think it’s really important that people with brain injuries understand that there are people who can help you.”

Thank you to our funders

STEP AHEAD is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. To find out more see:



What will you bake?

by Caroline Cullen in News Comments: 0

bakewell tartsIt’s that time of the year again which means we hope you’re ready to spice it up! Bake for Brain Injury is back with a bang as we get ready to raise vital funds to support brain injury survivors all over Ireland ahead of National Brain Awareness Week.

There’s still time to take part!

It’s never too late to organise a bake party – just drop us an email on and we’ll help you get started.

Easy bake ideas

If you’re looking for ideas on what to bake, we found some great easy bake recipes on BBC Good Food. All your favourites are here, everything from yummy bakewell tarts to butterfly buns and a chocolate tray bake.

Time savers

Save yourself some time and buy ready made pastry. You’ll usually find this in the freezer section. Just don’t forget to let it defrost the night before!

More cheats and tips

Who has time to squeeze lemons?! Give yourself a break and buy a bottle of lemon juice. Another good piece of advice is to keep your eggs out of the fridge for baking so they are at room temperature. If you’re making cupcakes, use an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter!

Gluten free

Don’t forget to cater for all palettes and here is a delicious gluten free lemon drizzle cake to add to your repertoire. Definitely one for your list. It’s a lovely moist cake and wait for it – the magic ingredient is – mashed potato!!

Vegan treats

chocolate cake vegan for bake for brain injury as part of Brain Awareness WeekIf you think mashed potato is a new trick in baking – wait till you hear about the avocado in this luscious chocolate vegan cake! The great thing about this recipe is that it is gluten free as well.

Whatever you’re baking – enjoy it!

Our bake events around the country:

  • Clare: 7th March, 12pm-3pm, 12 Tracklands, Tobarteascain, Ennis
  • Limerick: 11th March, 11.30am-1.30pm, 66 Ballinvoher, Father Russell Road
  • Wexford: 11th March, 12pm-3pm, our clubhouse at Applegreen Station in Drinagh
  • Kerry: 12th March, 1pm-3pm, Castleisland Resource Centre
  • Sligo: 13th March, 10am-4pm, AIB Bank, Sligo
  • Louth: 14th March, 2pm-4pm, Lisrath, Ballymakenny Road, Drogheda
  • Meath: 20th March, 10am-1pm, Claremont Stadium, Navan
  • Offaly: 22nd March, 11am-1pm, Teach Fáilte, Mountbolus
  • Laois: 25th March, 11am-1pm, Portlaoise Parish CentreCavan: 3rd April, 12pm-3pm, Tierquin


  • Dublin:
    10th March, 10am-2pm, Supervalu Lucan
    10th March, 11am-3pm, Side by Side Clubhouse, 13 Northumberland Ave, Dun Laoghaire
    11th March, 10am-2pm, Parlickstown House, Mulhuddart
    12th March, 1pm-3pm, 223 Rochestown Ave, Dun Laoghaire
    12th March, 3pm-5pm, Saint Paul’s Parish Centre, Adelaide Road, Glenageary
    12th March, 10.30am-12.30pm, Tymon Bawn Community Centre

Bake parties are set to sweep the nation to raise vital funds for brain injury rehabilitation this March!

bake for brain injury ahead of National Brain Awareness Week 2020Keep calm and bake!

Get ready to raise some dough to support the life-changing work of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and help bake the world a better place!

Whisk up a bake party

Be part of this great event and organise a bake party to raise funds to support our neuro-rehabilitation services.  So many lives are changed dramatically after serious brain injuries from stroke, road traffic accidents, falls and brain tumours. But with your help in the kitchen, we can give them hope and a better quality of life.

8 years and counting!

Dust off that apron and grab a rolling pin because it’s all happening ahead of National Brain Awareness Week 9-13th March. This year marks our 8th annual bake party fundraiser. Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years, raising vital funds for rehab and family support services across the country. It’s so much fun we know you can’t wait to do it again!

Join in the fun

You can register your own bake party here:

Or join our rehab teams and clients at one of our local services or locations near you:

  • Limerick: 11th March, 11.30am-1.30pm, 66 Ballinvoher, Father Russell Road
  • Meath: 20th March, 10am-1pm, Claremont Stadium, Navan
  • Wexford: 11th March, 12pm-3pm, our clubhouse at Applegreen Station in Drinagh
  • Kerry: 12th March, 1pm-3pm, Castleisland Resource Centre
  • Clare: 7th March, 12pm-3pm, 12 Tracklands, Tobarteascain, Ennis
  • Louth: 14th March, 2pm-4pm, Lisrath, Ballymakenny Road, Drogheda
  • Sligo: 13th March, 10am-4pm, AIB Bank, Sligo
  • Cavan: 3rd April, 12pm-3pm, Tierquin
  • Laois: 25th March, 11am-1pm, Portlaoise Parish Centre
  • Offaly: 22nd March, 11am-1pm, Teach Fáilte, Mountbolus
  • Dublin:
  • 10th March, 10am-2pm, Supervalu Lucan
  • 10th March, 11am-3pm, Side by Side Clubhouse, 13 Northumberland Ave, Dun Laoghaire
  • 11th March, 10am-2pm, Parlickstown House, Mulhuddart
  • 12th March, 1pm-3pm, 223 Rochestown Ave, Dun Laoghaire
  • 12th March, 3pm-5pm, Saint Paul’s Parish Centre, Adelaide Road, Glenageary
  • 12th March, 10.30am-12.30pm, Tymon Bawn Community Centre

Flour Power

Our Head of Fundraising Jonathan Power, said: “We’re looking for people to join in the fun and embrace the ‘flour power’ for our annual ‘Bake for Brain Injury’. Hosting a bake party or coffee morning between 9-13 March is a great excuse to catch up with friends at home, work or school while raising vital funds for our charity. Your support or donation will make a real difference to people who need our help after their lives are turned upside down after brain injury. Monies raised will go to support our local services so we can provide more personalised rehabilitation programmes to more brain injury survivors.”

Scale of brain injury

Every year in Ireland an estimated 19,000 people acquire a brain injury. Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them but according to Acquired Brain Injury Ireland it happens to 52 people here every day.

Hidden phenomenon

Mr Power added: “Brain injury is a hidden phenomenon in Ireland often because many people with brain injuries have problems that people can’t see. That’s why our neuro-rehabilitation services are so important. We help people manage difficulties with memory, fatigue, judgement and we support them in relearning everyday activities to increase their independence. Thanks to the generous donations from events like this, we can help even more people get their lives back. To register your own bake party for this year please go to


New support group for Wicklow!

At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland we are delighted to announce the launch of a new brain injury support group in Wicklow called On With Life. This group is for family and friends caring for a loved one with a brain injury.

Signpost with On with Life, Brain Injury Family & Friends Support NetworkFamilies need support too

When a brain injury happens, it can be devastating, both for the individual and for their families. It can put lives on hold while people undergo intense rehabilitation to relearn things, they used to do without thinking. Relationships are an essential part of any brain injury recovery.

What our experts say


Catherine Lacey is our Community Case Manager in East Wicklow and she strongly encourages family members and carers to come along to our new On With Life group. She said: “At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland we recognise the importance of supporting family and friends as they learn to cope with the challenges after a brain injury. Our new brain injury network On With Life is here to support families in Wicklow by providing information, guidance and support on this journey. Living with and caring for someone with a brain injury is a life-changing event. We are here to say, you are not alone.”

When can I join the Wicklow support group?

  • Date: 26th March
  • Time: 10am to 11.30am
  • Location: De La Salle Pastoral Centre, St Patrick’s Church, Wicklow town

Who should attend?

Our On With Life support network is growing with groups all around the country. These groups are family members and carers who are caring for a loved one with a brain injury. On With Life is open to all family members of brain injury survivors living with an acquired brain injury in Wicklow. Attendees do not have to be previously involved with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland services. All are welcome.

Be part of On With Life

Our On With Life Support Group Co-ordinator Dolores Gallagher has met with many families who are learning to cope after brain injury. She highly recommends joining a support group like On With Life so you can meet other people going through similar experiences as well as having access to expert guidance from our services.

Thrust into the role of carer without warning

She 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 of these challenges is not easy. We’re here to help you get ‘On With Life’.”

The benefits for you

Here are some of 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

Support for brain injury survivors

Our On With Life support groups are part of our family support services. If you are a brain injury survivor in need of support, please get in touch with our local services near you.

Thank you 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. For more information about our On With Life support groups see

Scale of brain injury in Ireland

Every year in Ireland an estimated 19,000 new brain injuries are acquired from causes including stroke, road traffic accidents, brain tumours, falls and assaults. Brain injuries can happen to anyone at any age at any time. If you would like to know more about our neuro-rehabilitation services near you – Get In Touch.



As election day looms closer on 8 Feb, we want to know – which parties are going to deliver more community rehabilitation?

It’s eight years since the national Neuro-Rehabilitation Strategy was launched and eight years on we are still crying out for rehabilitation services around the country. We really can’t wait any longer and we want to see real commitment in the Programme for Government to invest in neuro-rehab for brain injury survivors. So what are the parties saying in their manifestos?

What are the ‘Yes’ parties saying?

Well Fine Gael states that they “will have a ring-fenced fund for vital national strategies and fund the implementation of the Neuro-Rehabilitation Strategy”.

Fianna Fáil recognises the “demand for neuro-rehabilitation services” and agrees that current “service are completely insufficient to meet current needs”. They go on to say that they will “establish community neuro-rehabilitation teams in each of the nine CHO areas” at a cost of €5.2m.

Meanhwhile Sinn Féin stresses the need to “help those with neuro-rehabilitation needs to lead full and meaningful lives by giving them quality, tailored rehabilitation and support through neuro-rehabilitation teams and transitional units”.

Finally the Social Democrats focus on the need for “massive investment in new primary care staff” which would include increasing the number of case managers for acquired brain injury.

When candidates knock on your door

Tell them the scale of the brain injury problem in Ireland – that 19,000 people will have a brain injury this year. Don’t be surprised if they don’t know this – brain injury is a silent epidemic in this country. Find out more about how you can help here.

Tell them there is hardly a family in the country that hasn’t been touched by brain injuries caused by stroke, road traffic accidents, falls, tumours and assault. Yet despite the massive scale of brain injury, it is a lottery to access neuro-rehabilitation services.

Tell your local election candidates you want to see:

  • investment in community rehabilitation services
  • investment in case managers to deliver a basic national service to support families affected by brain injury
  • investment to ensure sustainability of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland services nationwide
  • Investment to support Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s development of Ireland’s first regional neuro-rehab centre

Festive tips for surviving and enjoying Christmas with a brain injuryThings are really hotting up for the festive season as we fast approach Christmas. The shops are busier with people, lights and noise which can be overwhelming to say the least. And sometimes even more so, if you have a brain injury.

Our tips for the festive season

This December, we’re sharing some tips to help you survive the madness! These tips are also useful to share with your family and friends to help them understand how you feel.

Time and Rest

After a brain injury, you need more rest than you used to. Your brain works differently after the injury and you can feel ‘brain tired’. It’s more tiring for your brain to think, process and organise. So remember to take a nap if you need a break. With all the Christmas food on the go, you won’t be the only one to shut your eyes!

Avoiding crowds

Too many noises can make it difficult to filter sounds in a crowded atmosphere for anyone, but especially after a brain injury. Noise cancelling earphones can be handy for some peace and calm amidst the hustle and bustle. Choose small social gatherings or shop online to avoid the crowded shops and bars.

Make a list – and check it twice!

With so much going on in the run up to Christmas, it’s easy to forget things. Stick to your routine as much as you can and remember to make a list if you are going to the shops. It’s a good idea to go shopping early in the morning or late in the evening, to avoid major crowds.

Ask for help

It sounds obvious but many of us forget to do it – ask for help if you need it and accept help if it is offered to you. A lot of tasks that arise at Christmas time, only happen once a year which makes it easy to forget how to do them. Two heads are always better than one!


We often see a lot more people at Christmas time and many of us enjoy time off at home. It can help to write a list of what’s happening each day. Don’t be afraid to ask your hosts about what’s planned as well so that you don’t have to worry about surprises. If there’s going to be a lot of people coming, you might decide to pack your noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs so you can slip away from some peace and quiet. And don’t be afraid to go to bed early to get your rest. Socialising can be very tiring.

Flashing lights

If flashing lights are bothering you while visiting, ask your friends and family to turn off the flashing features on Christmas trees and other decorations. Choose a seat facing away from the lights or use sunglasses or a peaked hat to shade you from the dazzle.