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  • 24 January 2024
  • 6 min read

Defying the odds - thank you Active Care Group's brain injury team

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  • Michael Jones
    Head of Therapies at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre
healthcare staff caring for a patient"He is a survivor who despite his long and ongoing journey to recovery, has refused to give up."

I share an insight into a remarkable journey of one of our care receivers at Active Care Group, Ben, and how we enabled him to embrace a hopeful future.

After being given a slim chance of survival after a brain haemorrhage, the support of our Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre enabled Ben to live independently as he continues to rebuild his life.

Despite a bleak outlook whilst in an induced coma, an unexpected turn of events occurred when Ben's consultant intervened just before his life support machines were planned to be switched off.

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On how his life was saved, Ben himself recounts the day as he understood it to happen: “I was in hospital and literally everyone was told the machines were being switched off.

"But my consultant barged in like an ex at a wedding - I’ve been told it was actually a phone call, but I like my version better! - and to cut a long story short, he saw something in me to let me live”

In essence, this consultant saw something in Ben that compelled the decision to let him live. While his life was initially saved by this individual, it was the collective effort of the Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre team that truly gave him a second chance at living his life.

Fast forward seven years from that fateful Christmas Eve and Ben's recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. He is a survivor who despite his long and ongoing journey to recovery, has refused to give up. He continues to be indebted to our team at Nottingham Brain injury Rehabilitation Centre for their support, for which we are very grateful.

Our Multi-Disciplinary Team

It all began when Ben was only 17 years old when he was admitted to Nottingham’s Queen Medical Centre, having collapsed at home, along with symptoms of headaches and vomiting. A right cerebellar bleed was diagnosed and medics intubated Ben, where he remained in a coma until February.

Transferred to Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre's Fernwood Unit in March, Ben was in a vegetative state, unable to engage with his surroundings or communicate. The collaborative efforts of our multi-disciplinary team, coupled with nursing and care expertise, paved the way for Ben's recovery.

Procedures such as a tracheostomy and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) were undertaken, rendering him reliant on the compassionate care provided by the centre's staff. However, through tailored support, multi-disciplinary treatments, and rehabilitation efforts, Ben gradually emerged from his vegetative state, progressing both physically and cognitively.

Reassessment eventually revealed a diagnosis of Minimally Conscious State Minus (MCS-), marking another milestone in Ben's journey. The tracheostomy, initially a lifeline, was successfully removed on-site in August. As his strength grew, Ben was transitioned to the Millwood Unit of Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, where our team specialise in slow-stream rehab for ongoing neuro-rehabilitation.

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Ben's Recovery

With the guidance of our staff of occupational therapists, Ben began to be more active by joining a local wheelchair basketball club. This not only provided him with physical engagement but also became a source of emotional support, turning him into a valuable member of the club, actively assisting others in their recovery journeys.

The culmination of Ben's progress materialised when, later that year, he was discharged to live independently in the community, without the need for a formal care package. Today, he requires only minimal assistance with daily tasks, can enjoy a regular diet, can communicate verbally, and is actively exploring opportunities to return to work.

Ben is forever grateful to his Consultant for being his main advocate and the our Specialists at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre; “My life was saved by this man, but my life was given back to me by the team at Nottingham.”

Introducing Michael Jones, the Head of Therapies at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre.

In this section, I want to share my career journey at Active Care Group, the specialised services at the centre I work in, and my own personal and professional motivations.

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Career Background And Experience

I’m originally from Shropshire, and arrived in Nottingham in 1997 to pursue psychology at Nottingham Trent University. After I graduated, I stayed in Nottingham, intending to continue studying. However, I did want some hands-on experience, working with people, so joined Active Care Group, initially as an activity coordinator.

While in that role, I collaborated with occupational therapists (OTs), discovering a passion for their approach blending cognitive psychology with practical interventions.

During my seven years in this role, I began working with OTs and something clicked. They were using elements of cognitive psychology alongside practical interventions within a framework of function, and it just made sense.

This was the unexpected fork in the road that set me off on a different path than intended. The company supported me through re-training in Occupational Therapy at Derby University.

Following qualification, I briefly left the organisation but returned to Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre when an OT position became available there. Over the years, I’ve been able to progress my career, eventually assuming the Head of Therapies role permanently.

The centre comprises three units—Fernwood, a high dependency unit; Millwood, a slow stream neurological rehabilitation unit; and Rosewood, a long-term neurological care unit. Fernwood caters to individuals with high nursing needs, including those with disorders of consciousness, respiratory issues, tracheostomies, or vents. Millwood focuses on slow stream neurological rehabilitation, while Rosewood provides care for long-term neurological conditions.

My Favourite Aspects Of Working At The Centre

I love the variety and that everyday is different, we have a wide range of individuals presenting with everything from patients with tracheostomies and vents to high functioning patients whose primary difficulties are cognitive, so the scope and range of treatments we offer keeps everything fresh.

The thing I enjoy the most is the people I work with and the atmosphere in the centre. We have some fantastic staff here which is really important when you’re working with very complex residents which can present some challenging situations.

Looking ahead, I have plans to reshuffle elements of the environment to better meet residents' needs and establish clear treatment pathways for their recovery journey. I’d really like to see those come to fruition and for us to work towards being recognised as a centre of excellence for neurological care and rehabilitation both locally and nationally.

I’m happy with the work I do. I’m also a proud father of two children (a two-year-old and a six-month-old) so as you can imagine, spare time is a little on the short side at the moment!

When I’m not being a dad, I’ve got a passion for photography and travel, both increasingly difficult now with a young family, but I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some very exciting countries and have some wonderful experiences, Cambodia probably being my favourite to date, but for the time being I’ve swapped backpacking in East Asia for long weekends at Center Parcs and I couldn’t be happier!

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  • Michael Jones
    Head of Therapies at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre

About the author

  • Michael Jones
    Head of Therapies at Nottingham Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre

My professional journey began as an assistant psychologist, where I worked as an activities coordinator. Over time, I transitioned to become an occupational therapist, steadily climbing the ranks to my current leadership position.

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