Episode two of BBC Two’s Hospital showed the story of Poppy McGill, a brave little girl who had experimental treatment for a brain tumour. As part of Poppy’s care package, she was seen by the BRILL team.
BRILL stands for Brain Injury Living Life and the team of ten is made up of Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, a Consultant, a speech and language therapist and a Clinical Phycologist.
This specially commissioned service is the first of its kind in the UK. It offers bespoke packages of care for children following acquired andtraumatic brain injuries. They carry out early intensive rehabilitation in hospital and supported discharge so children can carry on getting better at home, in their own environment. NUH is a regional specialist centre for neuroscience for the East Midlands, so the majority of patients in the region will start their neuro rehabilitation with the team.
Laura Kelly, Occupational Therapist in the BRILL Team said: “It’s great to work in a service that is leading the way. We work with amazing children and families here. It’s a real privilege to be part of their rehab journey.”
The BRILL Team was set up as a pilot in 2014, following an application to the hospital’s Dragons Den programme. Their aim was to improve patient experience and to reduce patient stay in Hospital, which was often extended so they could continue with their rehabilitation. The BRILL Team, who secured permanent funding in 2016, now support this journey at home.
Rachel Keetley, Team Leader for Children’s Physiotherapy said: “We meet families at the worst possible time in their life, following a trauma or a catastrophic injury. We often become part of the family as we are there for the massive milestones, we cry when they cry.
“It is the best thing in the world to be able to watch a child improve and get back to their normal life. The children might not always remember their experiences, but the families do and it’s lovely when they come back to see us.”
The team offer programmes of care that are specific to each child, dependant on age, ability and injury. It could be getting dressed, using a cutlery or even establishing different methods of communication.
Dr Jane Williams is the Consultant Paediatrician in the team, she said: “We see children right up to 18 and 19. For many of young people affected by brain injury, this is the awakening of their independent lives, which is robbed from them by illness or trauma. We deal with not only the grief from the injury but also the sadness around what could have been and the uncertainty of a new life which may have different goals and trajectories.
Dr Williams also sang the praises of her therapy colleagues: “The gym can be a place of sanctuary for a child and their parents. The therapists are alongside them every step of the way, they build a real bond.”