Catastrophic injury: the pathway to achieving great rehabilitation outcomes

When a person suffers a serious personal injury, it is an incredibly challenging time for both the injured person and their family. When faced with the prospect of recovery, it can often feel as if a very long and dark tunnel is ahead with little or no light at the end. Nevertheless, the Rehabilitation Code 2015 can offer a much-needed lifeline to the injured and their families.

How does the Rehabilitation Code work?

The Rehabilitation Code 2015 enables claimant solicitors to obtain, if the defendant insurer agrees to act under the code, the provision of funding for rehabilitation. In a personal injury case, neither party is required to agree to the Rehabilitation Code. However, a key advantage to the injured person is that any funds paid under the code are not paid back to the insurer whatever the outcome of his case. Moreover, having funds for rehabilitation available to utilise in the early stages of an injury can make a huge difference to the overall prospect and extent of recovery. This latter point is also why insurers have an interest in providing money for rehabilitation; the greater the injured person recovers, the less the overall value of the claim is likely to be. For example, if an injured person has returned to work sooner as a result of early rehabilitation funding, this potentially means a lower loss of earning claim.

Utilising the Rehabilitation Code in the aftermath of a serious injury

The serious injury team at Moore Barlow is currently assisting a client following a serious road traffic collision where he suffered a catastrophic brain injury. Our client was extracted from the car by the fire service before he was flown by air ambulance to an NHS Major Trauma Centre. On arrival our client underwent brain surgery and spent three months at the hospital of which six weeks were in the intensive care unit.

It was during this time at the major trauma centre that Moore Barlow were instructed. His family were concerned about the significant level of care that would be required following our client’s discharge from the hospital and the lack of income support on account of our client not working. Following a meeting with the family, we approached the insurance company of the driver of the vehicle that was considered to be at fault and invited them to participate in the Rehabilitation Code which they agreed to do.

A specialist brain injury case manager was instructed on behalf of both parties, who is akin to a “project manager”. The case manager worked with the legal team to support our client whilst he was at the major trauma centre which included arranging any additional “top up therapies” required whilst a decision was made for the next step in his journey for on-going care and support on discharge.

The case manager, working with the NHS therapy team, were able to secure a bed for our client at an NHS “Level 1” Neuro Rehabilitation facility. Crucially, this facility was not far from our client’s family home therefore making it easier for our client to see his family and friends during this important period of rehabilitation.

On discharge from the major trauma centre, our client benefitted from five months at the Level 1 Neurological Rehabilitation Centre where he had access to a consultant led multi-disciplinary team (MDT) which was comprised of neuro physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, speech and language therapists and neuropsychologists. Upon arrival at the centre, our client had been unable to walk, relied upon a wheelchair and had no speech. Upon discharge from the centre, he was able to walk without an aid, had recovered a degree of speech and was able to tolerate food rather than just shakes.

The benefits of using the Rehabilitation Code in cases of serious injury

The NHS discharge plan would only have facilitated our client to his home with access to outpatient support but by using the Rehabilitation Code 2015 it ensured our client was able to maintain the benefits he had reaped from the Level 1 facility. This clearly demonstrates the value of accessing it and continuing to get the best treatment to assist in his recovery. The team treating our client suggested that he have further input from a privately-run facility offering neurological rehabilitation through on-site independent living with 24-hour live-in care which was further agreed with the insurer.

Our client was able to enjoy a seamless transfer from the NHS centre to the private centre where he continued to benefit from state-of-the-art facilities. In addition to his ‘core therapies’, he had access to a dietician and was able to enjoy sports and hydrotherapy sessions.

With the support of the 24/7 support worker, funded through the agreement under the code, our client was able to start gaining some of his independence back in a safe and secure environment giving peace of mind to his family.

In time, our client successfully moved on to a trial of independent supported living in the community, funded by the insurer under the code, where he continues to receive specialist treatment and rehabilitation. The rehabilitation has been expanded to include; attending a local Headway Centre, having access to a local gym and the support to pursue hobbies such as archery and gardening.

Our client’s brain injury rehabilitation journey is by no means over and the serious injury team at Moore Barlow continues to support his recovery and claim for compensation.

From sharing some of our client’s rehabilitation journey, we hope to illustrate that with early and proper utilisation of funds secured under the Rehabilitation Code 2015 that it provides a light at the end of the tunnel for brain injury survivors and their families. We continue to strive for early and specialist rehabilitative treatment tailored to our clients’ individual needs. If you have suffered a serious injury, then please contact us.