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Conor Devlin
Conor Devlin
Image: Oireachtas.ie/HEAnet

One teenager's 'terrifying journey' through Ireland's health system after brain injury

Teenager Conor Devlin has told his story of experiencing an acquired brain injury.
Nov 7th 2014, 7:45 AM 15,962 14

A TEENAGER WHO suffered an acquired brain injury has described as “crazy” the difficulty in accessing services for people in his situation.

Conor Devlin received numerous injuries to his brain following a serious car crash in 2012 when he was aged 14, leaving him facing months of physiotherapy, speech therapy, and issues surrounding emotions and confidence.

His father was also seriously injured in the incident.

Speaking before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children yesterday, Devlin said the lack of dedicated services for teenagers with an acquired brain injury can turn the already “difficult experience” into a “terrifying journey”.

During his recovery, he had to visit clinics in several parts of the country to access the required services.

While these are all under the one roof at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, there is a long waiting list due to a lack of beds.

“It’s crazy that in this country there is only six beds and two daybeds,” Devlin told the committee.

He also noted that during his brief stay at the hospital, teenagers and children as young as two, also in the ward with spinal injuries, were made follow the same rules – “it knocked my confidence and my independence”.

His mother, Caitríona, also told the committee of the struggle to access services, noting that little was arranged prior to Conor’s discharge from hospital.

This meant she had to case manage his condition herself, and has recommended that a referral system be set up as soon as someone with an ABI is discharged.

“It was soul-destroying to realise the void in services for teenagers,” she said.

Words cannot describe how awful it was to be constantly fighting for supports at a time when my whole life was turned upside-down.

Speaking after the meeting, Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said:

“Despite his courageous and successful efforts at rehabilitation and the excellent services provided at the National Rehabilitation Hospital it was very disturbing to hear that the Hospital despite years of campaigning is still not in a position to offer more than 6 beds to children with this type of injury.”

The Deputy added that he will be making representations to the Health Minister on the issue.

Read: Limiting impacts in training key to cutting concussions – Dr. Michael O’Brien >

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