9392107-largePatients and their families have started moving in to the first dedicated in-patient neurorehabilitation unit in the South West at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. The new unit, which is only one of a few in the UK, will provide rehabilitation by a highly experienced interdisciplinary team for children with a range of neurological conditions including those who have sustained acute brain injury or spinal cord injury from trauma or infection or patients who need intensive rehabilitation following selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery for cerebral palsy.

Patients who sometimes need to stay in hospital for long periods will benefit from the new in-patient unit which offers a more home like environment within the Bristol Children’s Hospital. The eight bedded unit is made up of a bay of four beds and four cubicles for patients who are at higher risk of infection. Two beds on the unit have been set aside specifically for selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) patients who require intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation after their procedure. The remaining six beds will be available for patients recovering from a neurological illness, brain injury or spinal cord injury who still require further clinical support at the hospital, including speech and language therapy, play therapy, occupational therapy and neuropsychology. Children are also able to attend the hospital school.

The unit has a neurorehabilitation discharge planning coordinator who liaises with the local teams to ensure that the specific needs of the child are in place when the child is discharged from hospital.

Peta Sharples, consultant paediatric neurologist and clinical lead for neurorehabilitation at Bristol Children’s Hospital, said: “Bristol is the only acute NHS hospital in England to have agreed specific funding arrangements for children needing neurorehabilitation with commissioners.  These funding arrangements have made the new unit possible.  The interdisciplinary neurorehabilitation team were previously based at the Frenchay Barbara Russell Children’s Unit and transferred to the Bristol Children’s Hospital last year as part of a strategic plan to centre all specialist services for children on one site. ”  Rosemary Cussen, Ward Sister for Neuroscience, said: “We are delighted to have opened a new Rehabilitation Unit for children who need to stay in hospital after a neurosurgical procedure, neurological illness or brain injury for further therapies to ensure they have the best outcome possible.

“The Unit has an area called The Den where children can play and sit at the table to have their meals, watch DVDs or television and socialise with other children, away from their hospital beds. We hope this home from home environment is a comfort to children and their families who may need to stay in hospital for a long period of time.

“The same staff work on the acute Neuroscience Ward and the Rehabilitation Unit ensuring continuity for the children in our care on their road to recovery.”  Imogen Ashwell-Lewis was the first patient to move into the neurorehabilitation ward with her mum, Catherine Ashwell-Rice. Imogen is currently receiving intensive physiotherapy at Bristol Children’s Hospital following an SDR operation. Catherine said: “The new unit is great. There is space to play and a table the kids can sit at to eat their food together, just like we would at home. We’ve got a lot of the comforts of being at home, but with the reassurance that medical staff are on hand if required. Here, I know that Imogen can get the physiotherapy she needs, and I can continue to provide her with the care that I will once we leave the hospital.”
Bristol Post