The Neuro Rehabilitation OnLine (NROL) programme, which is jointly run by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT), has received nearly £180,000 from brain injury recovery charity SameYou, which was set up by actress Emilia Clarke after she suffered two life threatening brain haemorrhages whilst working on set for Game of Thrones.
Due to NROL’s success earlier this year, which involved 90 ELHT patients, the programme will now be rolled out to patients within the two counties thanks to funding awarded to SameYou from The National Lottery Community Fund.
The scheme, which uses online video sessions to provide one-to-one and group specialist neurorehabilitation, was created because the Covid-19 pandemic affected the number of patients who could access face-to-face NHS treatment.
Project lead Louise Connell, a UCLan Professor of Allied Health Neurorehabilitation & Stroke who also works for ELHT, said: “I’m absolutely delighted our scheme is being rolled out to help more people who’ve had a stroke or have other neurological conditions throughout the region.
“We know that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people with stroke and other brain injuries are spending less time in hospital and receiving less neurorehabilitation. NROL is all about using video technology to support patients, via a range of different groups covering cognitive and physical recovery, in their homes to ensure they can continue their recovery.”
Cogs in Motion, a cognitive rehabilitation group looking at brain education, memory, attention and information processing; Simply Speaking, a conversational skills group, and a physical group working on mobility, balance, strength and stamina will be among the available sessions.
In addition, all patients will be invited to weekly Café NROL sessions which provide the opportunity for general group discussion.
One of those who attended the pilot programme was Abdul Malik, who suffered a brain haemorrhage and seizure at his home in Burnley in May last year, which meant he was unable to speak for two-and-a-half weeks and was paralysed down the right-hand side of his body, unable to hold his baby son Eesa, who had arrived in December 2020.
The 37-year-old said: “I attended two NROL sessions a week to help with my upper limb movement and before I started, I struggled to move my arm at all but by the end of the programme I was able to hold my arm across my body, meaning I could hold my son again.
“NROL was a lifeline because I was seeing familiar faces twice a week online at a time when Covid-19 was stopping me from seeing anybody outside of my house. The physios and occupational therapists were very helpful and made us all feel comfortable. The patients were experiencing the same physical movement problems so our sessions allowed us to talk about our issues and we became friends too.”
The county wide scheme will involve physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, speech and language therapists and medical and assistant practitioners from ELHT, Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
If the regional rollout is deemed a success, a national NROL programme could soon follow.