Alan Hews speaks about the role of orthotics in rehabilitation at Brain Injury Group Conference
Senior LOC orthotist, Alan Hews, was invited to be a guest speaker at a training day focused on Rehabilitation following Brain Injury, held by The Brain Injury Group earlier this month in central London. The Brain Injury Group is a national body of lawyers and likeminded professionals – headed by Lindsay McClellan – which provides advice, support and services for those who have suffered from brain injury.
It is estimated that there are 1 million people living with some form of brain injury or trauma currently in the UK (Headway 2013) – and it is often a complicated process for those affected. The Brain Injury Group offers free legal advice to help people overcome some of those obstacles.
Normally the brain requires – whether awake or asleep – roughly 20% of the oxygen in the blood stream, yet only represents 2% of overall bodyweight.
Brain injury can be caused by several factors; traumatic brain injury typically occurs when a large external force hits the head, acquired brain injury is not hereditary or congenital but is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia) for example with strokes or heart attacks. Brain Injury in infants is commonly a result of hypoxia before birth, but there are several diseases which can also lead to brain injury; brain tumours, Parkinson’s, MS and other neurodegenerative diseases come under this bracket.
This training day brought together various experts in the field, specialising in different areas from neurological physiotherapy to case management, and of course, orthotics.
Alan’s talk discussed how orthotics can be used to help those in rehabilitation after suffering from a brain injury. A person’s movement is often seriously affected and orthotics - in conjunction with physiotherapy – can help patients to move more efficiently again.
Defined as external braces or supports, orthotics can treat a range of symptoms, as well as improving mobility by normalising gait pattern and reducing pain. Alan’s talk showed videos from LOC’s video vector gait lab (below) and focused on how orthotics can help a brain injury patient.
He also explained the importance of understanding the root cause of the individual’s symptoms in order to know how best to treat them – is their spinal position in a wheelchair deteriorating leading to lung dysfunction? Is there a muscle imbalance secondary to a neurological deficit - is their knee/elbow contraction? Each patient needs a different treatment plan with an agreed outcome as an objective to be reached.
Finally, Alan gave examples of case studies showing how people who have suffered brain injuries have been helped by LOC’s bespoke orthotics.
The event formed the second part of a two-day training scheme provided by The Brain Injury Group, with the first having already taken place on 24th January 2018. The organisation hosts such days, events and conferences all year round and more information can be found on their website.