New rehab service for brain injury patients

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014

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Southern patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries will be able to use a new residential rehabilitation service that helps restore their independence.

The service started this week.

Dunedin's Wakari Hospital will be one of only three places in New Zealand to provide the service.

Southern District Health Board general manager of older persons and community services Robert West said the service would mean specialised staff would sit in on discussions about a patient from the moment they were first seen.

"They [rehabilitation staff] can start thinking about rehabilitation from day one," he said. "This will [also] be the case for patients flown up from Southland."

West said it was a highly specialised programme involving several different therapies.

"It is about intensive therapy that helps deliver whatever the patient needs - that could be anything from learning to walk again . . . to learning to talk again."

Individually tailored rehabilitation programmes will help patients in acute hospital care become less dependent on fulltime care.

Health board patient services executive director Lexie O'Shea said the new service was established in consultation with ACC.

"The individualised and specialised support offered by the service will enable patients affected by traumatic brain injury to make the transition from hospital to the community."

The programme is based on international and national research for rehabilitation and will provide a seven-day-a-week service.

O'Shea said Dunedin had always provided rehabilitation for brain injury at the ISIS centre, but the new service would allow rehabilitation to start earlier in the patient's recovery.

ACC general manager of claims management Sid Miller said the new service was part of the organisation's plan to improve rehabilitation and support services.

"The new service recognises that early, intensive rehabilitation is crucial to a successful recovery," he said.

ACC helps about 300 clients each year with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries transition back into the community.

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