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Lyons Davidson’s Head Injury Team were delighted to attend Headway’s The Way Ahead Weekend 2011  conference from 8-10 July at the University of Leicester. Approximately 300 people representing a variety of Headway’s groups and branches from across the UK attended this year’s event, entitled ‘Looking to the Future’.

Several eminent speakers attended, including John Pickard, Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre and Neurosciences Critical Care Unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. He spoke about recent developments in neurotrauma, discussing the setting up of national trauma centres and how those with brain injuries generally do twice as well if they are taken to a neuro-intensive care, rather than a general intensive care ward.

He also presented some interesting ongoing research into brain injury, addressing issues such as whether a craniotomy changes overall outcome; why enhanced MRIs show that there seems to be further loss of white matter fibres in people with brain injuries, despite them showing visible improvements; and whether that improvement can be enhanced if the additional loss of fibres can be halted. He also looked at levels of misdiagnosis of persistent vegetative state.

Matt Colbeck from the University of Sheffield talked about the incorrect portrayal of coma in the media. He is currently working with a writing group in Sheffield, whose members have all experienced coma or an acquired  traumatic brain injury. Their debut publication, Head-Lines, is due this summer.

Dr Howard Jackson, Clinical Director of TRU (Transitional Rehabilitation Unit) discussed brain injury rehabilitation, exploring the importance of structure, and the need for support and strategies for rehabilitation. He expressed the view that the frontal lobes are the most vulnerable and sophisticated area of the brain. The problems caused by damage to the frontal lobes are vast and can cause social, emotional and behavioural problems. Although earlier transitional rehabilitation is best, Dr Jackson noted that there is no critical period beyond which significant progress can be made.

There were also a number of smaller workshops during the day on topics ranging from understanding dysphasia and practical tips for groups in areas such as fundraising and dealing with social media.

Throughout the weekend, there was also ample opportunity for networking.

Contact Lyons Davidson’s Head Injury team for more information.