Falling four metres and surviving


In May 2015, Andy fell four metres onto a concrete floor from the scaffolding he was working on, causing severe damage from a bleed on the brain due to the trauma of the fall. He also fractured his spine and impacted his ability to breathe, so a tracheostomy had to be fitted.

Andy was admitted to the Glenside hospital neuro rehabilitation unit (NRU) in December 2015 following a spell in Frenchay Hospital. On admission, Andy no longer had a tracheostomy, but his mobility was very limited and he needed input from various members of the Glenside team to help him become more independent.

In the past few months, following intensive rehabilitation from the multi-disciplinary team, Andy has made significant progress.

Andy said “Every week has been different and I continue to make progress. My daughter has been included in understanding the treatment given to me by the staff at Glenside. The Physio team are brilliant.”

Initially, he was experiencing severe mood swings often crying or laughing at the slightest thing – this is not uncommon following TBI and is known as emotional lability. It is uncontrollable, so can be distressing as it was for Andy. The psychology team supported Andy to ‘normalise’ and gain understanding of the lability. They also trained the ward staff on the subject so that his team gained better awareness of it and how it affects the way people feel about themselves. Medication was prescribed by Andy’s consultant which has meant that the lability is now more under control.

In physiotherapy, Andy’s main focus was to strengthen his right side, improve his posture and work on a more symmetrical walk. Andy has continued to progress his mobility and regain more function in his right arm. Other treatment modalities such as FES (functional electrical stimulation) and hydrotherapy were used in physiotherapy to help Andy achieve his goals.

The Occupational therapy team has worked with Andy to increase his independence with everyday tasks such as getting himself ready in the morning and preparing his own breakfast. This has included providing a daily exercise routine to improve the functional movement of Andy’s right arm – which was affected by the brain injury. Progressing on from this, Andy has been out on visits home with the OT to prepare and plan for his likely needs in the community, ensuring close liaison with community services.

As with many brain injury patients, Andy found it difficult to focus on what he was achieving through rehabilitation which impacted on his motivation to engage with therapists. The psychology team supported Andy to record achievements and reflect on these on a daily basis with staff and family. By encouraging this focus, Andy was able to ‘own’ his progress and maintain motivation to continue working.

With the support of his daughter, Andy returned home in May 2016, following adaptations to his home and the addition of specialist equipment to facilitate this process and his life once home.