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From a dream to reality – in Paul’s words

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This week, PAUL For Brain Recovery heard the amazing news that we had been nominated for a Hull Daily Mail Health and Care award for 2017.

The picture of me in the article was taken in early 2015, two and a half years after the brain injury which caused me to lose everything- a £40,000 per year job; my girlfriend; my driving licence; friendships; and part of my identity that I would never get back due to the brain damage. At the time, I was seeing a counsellor to cope with my depression and anxiety.

As I was trying to accept my deficits and fighting through many hard days, I began working in the community- a lone ranger- meeting other people affected by brain injury and helping them by offering Positivity, Awareness, Understanding and Love. There was a huge demand and I felt it was my duty to develop something worthwhile and make a positive difference.

I didn’t have a clue where to start. I had never ran my own business and didn’t know the first thing about starting a charity. I had never had anything to do with governance or how to structure a service. But what I did have was PASSION, DETERMINATION and DEDICATION. I was prepared to give my heart and soul 24/7 to this, I wanted to dedicate every second that I could to learn, and develop myself, so that I could help many more people affected by brain injury.

Looking at that picture in the newspaper this week, I realised how far we had come. It has taken another two and a half years of blood, sweat and tears. Frequently feeling vulnerable, stressed and exhausted but not giving up. I am incredibly thankful to work with amazing people who have been as passionate about the cause as I have. Now, we are in 2017 as a U.K. registered charity with four members of staff supporting over 120 visits per month at our community centre. The service we have put in place is having such a positive impact in the community that it has recently been commissioned by the local NHS. I am beyond proud of everything WE have accomplished- the team at the centre, our ambassadors, trustees, sponsors and mentors as without you, I would surely not have got the service out of the living room where it began!

I hope that my story can show that anything is possible after brain injury, mental health issues, or any difficulty you might face in life. Never give up guys, work hard and believe in yourself…if I can do it, then so can you. X

Inspiring pair conquer Great Wall challenge

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At PAUL for Brain Recovery, achieving the seemingly impossible is something our Brain Injured friends do everyday. From walking for the first time since their injury to leaving the house on their own and getting back into work, the people that access our service are consistently breaking down barriers and inspiring the team that works with them.

The charity wants to lead by example and so we strive to live a healthy lifestyle, setting goals and accomplishing them in the hope that we will inspire our service users as much as they inspire us. Our founder Paul Spence is at the forefront of this. Since his brain injury in 2012, he has run marathons, learnt to swim again and trekked hundreds of miles, whilst helping to raise thousands of pounds for the people that need it.

In May 2017, Paul and one of our amazing supporters Michael Smith- managing director of Cobus Communications- ran The Great Wall of China Marathon. This particular race covers notoriously difficult terrain, with the 26.2 miles covering 5,164 steps. It is one of the most arduous marathons in the world and in 2016 there was only a 37% completion rate. Even some of the world’s most seasoned runners are unable to conquer this Herculean task.

The idea to train for and run the race came after Mike and Paul had conquered another great wall much closer to home. After walking the 90 miles along Hadrian’s Wall, the buzz of completing something so tough inspired them to push themselves further. According to Michael, he remembers Paul asking what other famous walls there were- to which they both instantly said “The Great Wall of China!”

The idea for the run was not just about personal achievement. Going all the way to China would be an amazing way of raising awareness for the charity and making connections with people all over the world. We want people to know who we are, what we care about and what we are doing, and this would give us the chance to spread that message even further afield.

The event would also provide a great platform to raise much-needed funds to enable the charity to continue to support some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Although the charity does receive support from the Hull CCG, everything we raise through events such as this goes directly towards providing services, activities and equipment for our service users.

Michael and Paul had only 3 months to train for the marathon. Paul, who had completed marathons before, knew what this involved – though he had never faced these sort of conditions. Michael on the other hand, while in great physical shape, had never run more than 8 miles before! He said of training “I needed Paul, who is an experienced runner, to encourage me and push me hard”.

Michael and Paul put everything into the training programme- meeting up weekly, going to the gym, road running, trail running- you name it, they were doing it! Getting in shape and preparing their endurance for this mammoth challenge was of the utmost importance. Michael in particular, went above and beyond to get himself ready for the race. He reached new heights and achieved many personal records in his training, with constant support from Paul.

Flying out a few days before the race, Paul said he found it hard to take it all in. “I was feeling excited and amazed but there was also a huge sense of disbelief. If someone had told me in my first year of recovery that I would be going to China to run a marathon I would have thought they were joking.”

The race itself was what Michael called “the toughest challenge I have ever taken on”. Temperatures on the wall rose to 43 degrees, and Michael and Paul have said they have never experienced anything like it. ’Hitting the wall’ is a common part of every runner’s races, but Michael and Paul reported hitting the wall multiple times throughout this marathon. Somehow, they managed to carry on, support each other, and finish in an amazing time of just over 6 and a half hours. Having supported each other through something so tough meant they were able to keep going, where others might have failed. It was essential to their success!

Michael and Paul finished their race together, coming 315th and 316th across the finish line. They broadcasted the end of the race live, and many viewers reported feeling very emotional and proud when seeing them cross the finish line. Paul said of finishing, “Not only is this a life experience for me but it shows everyone going through brain recovery that there are great things to be achieved in their future- greater than they can ever imagine!”

Through sponsorship and donations, a total of £8,515.67 was raised towards the challenge! A total which is reflective of the incredible achievement of Michael and Paul. This is amongst someof the biggest fundraising totals we have ever achieved and we are proud to have worked with such committed people to make it happen.

Without the amazing support and sponsorship of Michael and his team at Cobus Communications, this trip would never have happened. The dedication that they have shown towards the charity is inspiring and we are excited to continue to work with them in the future. Support from local businesses like Cobus is vital to small charities. they have seen the positive impacts of supporting a charity such as ours and have really got behind our cause.

We would also like to say a huge thank you to our amazing sponsors. KRL Group Ltd, Planet Gym, Informed Financial Planning, Hunters Estate Agents, Andrews Joinery, EMS and Nexus have all helped to make this amazing fundraising activity possible. We are extremely grateful!

Last but certainly not least, we would like to thank anyone who sponsored the challenge- we could not do it without you. The money raised is going to go directly to helping the brain-injured and their families.

Top Chef and Olympian star in charity cooking series

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Living a healthy lifestyle is essential to brain recovery. It is very easy to tell a brain injury survivor what they should and should not be eating, but inspiring them with different recipes and a ‘healthy eating’ education is another story.

At PAUL for Brain Recovery, we want to support our brain injured friends through what is a vital part of their recovery journey. Due to the wide-ranging effects of acquired brain injury, bad habits- such as eating processed foods- can easily rear their ugly heads. We aim to help people to live well, live healthily and live positively.

When the charity started in 2015, we published a cooking booklet with healthy meal ideas and nutritional tips to aid in brain recovery. This has proved vital in helping people that access our service to stay focused in their lifestyle, and it can be beneficial to any parents or carers of a brain injury survivor. Meeting with top chef Jonathon Bowers in February 2017, we were inspired to take this book to the next level by developing videos to accompany the cookbook. The idea behind it was that our service users, their family members, carers- plus, anyone else that is interested in nurturing their mind and body- can then access this information from home, keeping them motivated and on track in their recovery.

On 14th August 2017, our founder Paul Spence went down to London with our team to film for a cooking show with Jonathon Bowers and Team GB Olympic Swimmer Jack Burnell. The experience itself was exciting, informative and stimulating. Bowers is a Chef Lecturer at the University of West London, and he welcomed the team into his kitchen where he taught us to cook Pineapple Carpaccio and Beef Cheek Hash. The dishes were delicious and Bowers was very passionate about how to cook healthy, comforting food which is good for the brain. The accessibility of the videos for our service users is vital to their recovery and will be a game-changer for helping them on their journey. The dishes Bowers made were simple and budget friendly- showing the viewers that you don’t have to be a master chef or a millionaire to stay healthy!

The team at PAUL for Brain Recovery are really appreciative of the opportunity to work with an incredible group of people. Meeting with Bowers and his team meant that we are able to start taking the nutrition booklet to the next level for brain injury survivors. The added bonus of meeting an Olympic athlete was the cherry on top of an amazing day. Jack Burnell is an accomplished swimmer with a very bright future. He had an excellent view of brain and body stimulating foods and even gave us a few swimming tips!

Reflecting on Year One

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Reflecting on the year since the PAUL for Brain Recovery centre doors were open for the first time, we would like to share with you our journey so far. Developing a service from scratch is particularly challenging as there is no rule book or guidance to follow except the past experiences and knowledge of the team. The service is delivered by Paul Spence, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012; Ali Ward, a Brain Injury Case Manager who has had a family member suffer a brain injury and Leigh North who deals with the general operations of running the charity.

The Service is a non-clinical support and guidance service, which can be accessed by anyone of any age who has been affected by an acquired brain injury. The service is based around peer-mentoring, goal setting, progress monitoring as well as funding professionals to deliver necessary therapy and referrals to other organisations/support services according to need.

Upon accessing the PAUL for Brain Recover Centre, you can expect a warm, friendly and relaxed environment. A chat with the individual and/or their family members will help us to establish what help and support may be needed. An initial assessment form is filled out to record personal information and obtain details of how, where, when and what condition/injury was sustained. We also record any cognitive, behavioural, emotional or physical difficulties, as well as any other challenges. The form also allows the individual to tell us what they want/need, their specific goals for the future and how we can help them.

Initially peer support was the main focus of service delivery, and is still a large part of what makes the centre so popular. We offer invaluable peer support from Paul, and others who are on the recovery journey, which sends the clear message that ‘you are not alone, there are others that understand what you are going through’. This kind of support is priceless and we find that it really helps an individual gain insight into their injury. Expressing concerns, fears and difficulties enables others who have experienced the same, to offer advice on coping strategies, true understanding and genuine support.

Providing individuals and their family with a safe environment where they are understood and free to share their feelings, is and will always be a very important aspect to the service, however it became apparent quite quickly that many people also need help in other areas. This includes goal setting, working through problems, taking up new hobbies, advice on nutrition and fitness, progress monitoring, benefits and financial advice, family support and referrals when necessary to our accredited associates e.g Mind, Let’s Talk, Carer’s Association.

After the initial meeting an individual can access the following dependent upon their needs or wishes:
– One to one sessions with Paul and Ali
– Social time – twice weekly for 2 hours per session. This gives our brain injured friends a chance to meet others, socialise and share their experiences of brain injury.
– Monthly outings – We have been to various places which have included, Brantingham, The Deep and Bridlington.
– The allotment project – located in the centre of Hull, our allotment is in the process of having a summer house built on it and full wheelchair access. We aim to grow fruit and veg on our plot as well as spend time in nature and the peaceful surroundings.

We are a person-centred service as we understand that every individual is different and therefore has unique needs, challenges and goals. We devise a recovery pathway for all our brain injured friends which helps them on their path to a bright future, providing support, guidance and positivity every step of the way. We review each pathway every 3 months to ensure we are meeting the needs of the individual and thus providing the best service possible. Our primary aim is to help and encourage everyone to reach their full potential, whatever that may be. We celebrate each and every achievement that is made, no matter how ‘small’ it is perceived to be, and encourage our brain injured friends to embrace challenges knowing they are not alone.

To conclude, we would like to acknowledge the role of kind hearted businesses and members of the public who are crucial in enabling us to provide our service. Money raised or donated goes directly to help our brain injured friends. For example, to provide physiotherapy sessions, anger management, mindfulness/relaxation, aqua physio, nutritionist, college fees and equipment for the centre (parallel bars, walking frame, physio bed).

PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre celebrates first anniversary

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He started out on his own, sharing his experiences of brain injury on Facebook with the thought that if he helped just one person in the same situation find greater positivity and motivation, it would be worthwhile. Four years on though and Paul Spence has achieved so, so much more.

In fact, he is now leading a key community health support service in Hull which has helped hundreds of people over the past year with advice, support and guidance, and carefully planned and continually monitored personal development programmes.
Since opening 12 months ago, the Paul For Brain Recovery Centre has been visited more than 800 times. Of those visits, 150 people have sought one-to-one mentoring from Paul and his team of brain injury specialist volunteers, benefitting from ongoing support as they rebuild their lives.

The centre has become a hub for people on all stages of the long hard road to recovery, and Paul, who has made a remarkable recovery from his own serious brain injury in 2012, is understandably beaming with pride. “I can’t really put into words how proud I feel. The pride comes from seeing someone walk in this door feeling lost to find a group of people who understand them and who can help them make positive progress in their lives,” he said.

“I’ve walked the path that everyone who comes through our doors is on when they turn to us. I understand that every individual’s goals are different, whether it be to simply get up off the sofa each day to getting back to work.

“There are so many obstacles to rebuilding your life after a brain injury and our team are here to support people doing that.”
From helping brain injury survivors develop a positive outlook to providing physiotherapy and fitness sessions, nutritional advice and support for family members, the Paul For Brain Recovery Centre has made an undeniably positive impact.

So much so that Paul and his team are hoping for good news soon from NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) with regard to its long-term role in providing specific brain injury support services in the city of Hull. The CCG provided the centre for an initial 12 months, but such has been the demand for the service, which now has close to 100 visits a month, it is hoped a longer-term agreement will be reached.

“When we set out we were simply looking to provide a service which we felt was needed from my experience,” said Paul.
“I was passionate about it because once I’d left hospital I found there to be a major lack of community based support for brain injured people. That’s no criticism of anybody. The care I received in hospital was amazing and saved my life, but there is still a danger of people being lost when they are back in the community.

“Once you leave hospital you find your biggest challenge is only just starting, and that is adapting to your new life and finding it in yourself to accept your old life is gone forever. For every patient that has a brain injury, you may as well multiply that number by five in terms of how many people it affects within the community.

“The centre aimed to provide support for brain injured people and their families, and over the past year we are proud to say we have done just that.”

Having launched in April 2016, Paul soon found a large number of people requesting his help at his Wilberforce Health Centre premises.

With visitor numbers increasing, so did his own team. Leigh North joined to oversee the day to day management of the centre whilst brain injury case manager Ali Ward, who’d met Paul through his awareness and fundraising activities, volunteered her own services to structure the support packages being provided.

“In the initial days it was something of a support group, bringing people together and offering support and positivity, but it soon became clear that we had many people who needed regular one-to-one help and specifically tailored programmes” said Paul.
“Ali coming on board was like a gift as she had a family member who’d suffered a brain injury and was a case manager for brain injured people also, so she helped me massively in structuring our support programmes. It all just came together and we have adapted the service to meet the needs as the year has progressed.”

Following initial ‘getting to know you’ sessions with new visitors, which assess all aspects of their ‘self-care’ from happiness and hygiene to exercise, energy levels, mood, anxiety and socialising, each person is given their own individual progress file which logs their progress in both body and mind.

“We find that a lot of people who come to us have low self-esteem, can be anxious, perhaps a little depressed with where they are in life, and we need to help them make positive steps to find their pathway to a bright future.” Ali said.

“The focus is on providing people with achievable goals and helping them feel positive about their progress. It is important to set short term aims to get some positive outcomes rather than simply long term goals.

“Everyone wants to get back to as close as they were before as soon as possible, but Paul is great at being straight-talking with people and giving them realistic expectations. He has been there and they can respect it coming from him. He was told he’d never be the same person again and a huge part of being able to progress was understanding and accepting that.

“We ask people how they measure quality of life. It’s a great question to consider whether you’ve had an injury or not. What will make you happy? We then work towards that.

“We also have something called the ‘Tree of Life’, an image we show them which shows people in many positions. Some are climbing the tree, some are falling, some of them are on the ground. People give many different answers, but it helps us get a sense of what is in their mind.”

As accredited associates with a number of support services, including MIND (mental health support), Let’s Talk (Anxiety and Depression services), and Aqua Physio (mobility issues), the centre is able to refer clients to appropriate external support.
Paul’s is doing all and more than he set out to achieve.

His name has become synonymous not with brain injury, but with brain injury recovery, positivity, awareness, understanding, and love, as his charity logo says. The model of Paul For Brain Recovery is now being looked at by NHS England with a view to replicating it elsewhere, having pioneered in the city of Hull. Paul is certainly hoping to build for the future.

“I’m immensely proud of the support now provided for people with brain injuries in our community and we have to build on what we have started,” Paul added.

“I can remember they day I hung a whiteboard up in my living room. My family thought I’d lost the plot but it was a way of me finding something positive, writing it down and focusing on it. In many ways, we replicate that here with how we record the progress of those we support.

“It is often through talking and being open that you start to make progress. It was the start for me when I went onto Facebook and started sharing my story.

“Looking back, it was a big risk to open myself up on social media and expose myself completely in terms of where I was in my life. I’d struggled, all of my relationships had changed at home, at work and socially, and I was isolated.

“I didn’t know what response I’d get, but it was overwhelmingly positive and I soon found that there were so many more people out there in just the same position as me. There were also many families out there who had loved ones who had suffered a brain injury and were struggling to know how best to help and support them.

“There was massive need for community support, and that was the start of it all. “I’d love to replicate what we have done here elsewhere.

“Firstly though I want to continue making a difference here in Hull and the East Riding. Fundraising has been key and I’ve had the support of some brilliant sponsors, especially among the business community such as Hudgell Solicitors, who played a huge role in helping me establish the charity in the first place, and then in getting the centre open and operational this year.

“Now though we need the funds to not only maintain the service, but to expand it to be able to support more people. I know we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do, and hopefully we’ll get the support we need to do so much more.

“I know we are providing a service which is much needed. All you need do is speak to the people we support. We’re a lifeline to them and that is very rewarding for all involved.”

Delighted to win the Stephen McAleese Inspiration Award 2016

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I recently headed to London with our charity team. It was an exciting time for us, as we would be showcasing the charity for the very first time at the annual UKABIF – From surviving to thriving conference 2016.

This was a momentous occasion for the PAUL For Brain Recovery charity as it would be our first conference in London. I had actually attended this conference last year as an HEYNHS guest but at that time, just a one man band working hard in the community! I left the conference inspired and dreamt of returning in 2016 as a U.K registered charity with a stall to advertise our service. 

Hard work does pay, it felt fantastic to have made the dream come true. Here we were setting up doing just what I had dreamt, it was a proud moment; 

We were keen to listen to speakers in the auditorium and learn valuable knowledge to take back to our North East service.

There had been a competition for videos describing ABI as well which were interesting, we saw fantastic work for first, second and third place. Then there was an awards section to recognise good work from around the country. 

One in particular was the prestigious; Stephen McAleese Award for Inspiration by an individual in the field of Aquired Brain Injury – 2016

The award was in honour of Stephen McAleese who had sadly passed away in December 2010. Stephen, who was just 15 years old when he sustained a brain injury as a result of contracting meningitis. He dedicated his life to promoting understanding of brain injury and helping others from all walks of life. So highly regarded was his work with UKABIF, they named the award in his memory! 

I was completely blown away when they called my name out. It was totally unexpected, I couldn’t believe it. Wow…..What an honour. I headed down to the stage to receive the award from the late Stephens parents;


Their presence made the occasion even more touching! I felt privaliged to speak to them off stage and thank them. I got to know more about Stephens great work after his brain injury. I felt inspired listening! 
I was proud to tell them about the work I did in the community and how it had developed into the first PAUL For Brain Recovery community centre. A service which is supported by the local NHS. They came to our stall and were keen to learn more about our work which was really nice! 

Lastly , I made them a promise to make Stephen proud and carry on inspiring the brain injured. I will think of him when I am challenging myself to inspire others, finding strength in his legacy.

As you can imagine, I left London on a conplete high. It was another major milestone on the charity’s and my personal journey. As I would say “Positive Progress”!


Great to take the award back home to Hull, now it sits pride of place in our brain recovery centre. 

Huge thanks to the people that nominated me for the award. I feel very humbled by your support. Onwards and upwards in 2017. 

Sheffield Virgin Money Lounge Trip

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On the 17th November, the PAUL For Brain Recovery team and brain injured friends took a trip to the Virgin Money Lounge in Sheffield.15134697_1759549650964411_1589033393580948025_n

 

The lounge had lots of fun activities to do, including table football, air hockey, bowling and also comfy areas to chill out, listen to music or read.

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Everyone really enjoyed the day out. It was a great bonding experience for us, and we all had lots of fun- especially when we played a big game of bowling! Although we were on teams, everyone was given lots of support, encouragement and cheering which created a brilliant atmosphere of fun and togetherness, which was lovely to be a part of.

 

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We would like to say thank you to everyone who came on the trip and made it such a fantastic day! We enjoyed it so much we are planning another trip in 2017 which we look forward to. Also, thank you to all the staff at Virgin for their hospitality on the day- especially Holly, our trustee, who did a great job of organising the event for us.

 

NHS England Complex Rehabilitation Review

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The 27th of October saw us attend the third of three Complex Rehabilitation Review Workshops that were facilitated by NHS England Yorkshire & Humber.

We are delighted to have been involved in these workshops to help determine the future complex neuro-rehab model to be commissioned by NHS England. The review was undertaken by NHS England as they have highlighted that current rehabilitation services are fragmented and access to them depends on where you live. The aim of the proposed new model is to try and create a clear and thorough pathway that flows from acute services, right through to support in the community. The proposed new model also aims to be patient focused and be accessible to everyone across the Yorkshire & Humber region.
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Was great to catch up with the team from Ward 29 at Castle Hill Hospital at the workshop.

As part of this review, we were pleased to host a patient engagement workshop at the PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre. This workshop enabled a number of our service users to feed in to this review and give their opinion of rehabilitation services in the area. We would just like to say a huge thank you to all those involved for sharing their personal experiences of brain injury rehabilitation.

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How exercise can improve your brain

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The role of exercise in getting fit, losing weight and staying healthy is well known. However, whilst the focus has mostly been on the importance of exercise for the body, little attention has been paid to the massive benefits that it can have on our most complex organ; the brain.

So just how important is exercise for a healthy brain?

For starters, exercise has amazing effects on our mood. This isn’t just a psychological phenomenon; there are also physiological processes behind it including:

•Increased blood flow to the brain and more efficient oxygen and glucose metabolism.
•Neuronal response to stress is improved (especially in the hippocampus- our learning and memory centre).
•Increases in serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter regulates and improves our mood.
•The brain is protected against molecules that over excite it, including free radicals, high glucose levels, and high glutamate levels.

More recent scientific research has also found that:

•Exercising produces a special protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which has been dubbed a master molecule and even been referred to as ‘Miracle- Gro for the brain’. BDNF improves signal strength in the brain and also causes the production of more serotonin and other important proteins.

Why is exercise essential to those going through brain recovery?

People going through brain recovery often feel depressed, anxious and isolated. Therefore, the effect that exercise has on mood can particularly benefit these individuals, helping to improve their well-being and also give them a greater sense of achievement and control over their recovery.

But exercise doesn’t just improve our mood. It also causes physical changes to our brain. One of the most exciting changes that exercise causes is neurogenesis- the creation of new neurons. Exercising literally grows the brain! The new neurons are created in the hippocampus, the centre of memory and learning. This can particularly help those going through brain recovery, as memory and learning are often impaired in those with a brain injury.

The damage caused by a brain injury and the mental health issues associated with brain injury may be improved by BDNF-stimulated neurogenesis, and exercise is the very best way of boosting BDNF levels in the brain.

What’s the message?

To those going through brain recovery and looking for ways to improve your life, exercise may be the answer! It doesn’t have to be lots or really intense; any amount of exercise, however small it may be, will have very positive effects on your recovery. Even just a walk can help to boost BDNF levels and help improve your mood, memory, learning and overall brain health. At the PAUL For Brain Recovery Centre, we have seen the positive effect that exercise has had on our brain injured friends, and believe that exercise is key to a positive recovery.

So next time we think about exercise, lets also think about what it can do not just to our bodies, but also to our brain. After all, our brains are the most powerful things we have, and deserve to be looked after as best we can.

 

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A different way of thinking after brain injury…

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I was thinking recently just how much my life has changed since my brain injury in 2012. Four years on, pretty much everything is different, to an extreme! 

The first 2/3 years were a real struggle, coming to terms with my injury and the recovery process that comes with endless psychological challenges. Once I was in year 3 I had accepted the changes and was learning how to use my new brain and subsequent new way of thinking to its optimum. 

One thing was for sure, I had to stop fighting to be the old me and enjoy the new! 

I had realised that I had a smaller capacity of mind space, so using it wisely was going to be key to overall quality of life. So I learnt what was good for my brain and how to make it perform at its best level.  (Once you have felt your brain struggling daily, you soon tune into what helps performance and what doesn’t)

If I was going to be on the back foot due to damage then I was sure as hell gonna make the most of what I had! 

The making of me is me, and I want to be the best version of me. After getting a second chance with life I have a burning desire to reach my full potential , both physically and mentally. 

So, some important key factors that can determine my brain performance and make the above happen are; 

My thoughts 

Nutrition / Hydration 

Physical exercise 

Sleep 

Purpose

There are others but I would say these are the primary ones I needed to concentrate on first hand. 

And so, 

My thoughts – I practice daily mindfulness to help me be aware of my thoughts and what was productive and what was pointless. I tried each day to focus on the positive/productive and not the negative/pointless. This really helped me get the most of out my days. 
Exercise/nutrition – I had realised during recovery the power of exercise and good food! I used both to my advantage for optimal brain repair and performance. Now they both feature heavily in daily life on my new path – 

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I rarely go a day without some sort of exercise and I’m always mindful of using brain foods in my weekly eating plan. After all , better fuel means brighter thinking! 

Sleep – I enjoy my sleep and make sure to have at least 7/8 hours a night. This is enough to make me feel energised and ready for another day! 

Purpose – I learnt to enjoy my sense of purpose (whatever my capabilities) as recovery went on. Basically ,  I empowered myself once I learnt to enjoy what I could do, rather than dwelling on what I couldn’t.

This meant that once I put all my mental energy into the job in hand, it made it easier to achieve. Then I moved onto the next ambition, pushing my limits throughout recovery; this has helped me achieve more then I ever imagined, both physically and mentally! 

This has made me wonder what my potential is; the curiosity drives me to new challenges, bigger each time. I love growing as a person – self development feels awesome! 

My new way of thinking believes that’s part of the reason we are here…..to reach our full potential, what ever that may be. To live, learn and grow being the best form of ourselves possible. 

I have to say I am enjoying finding out my new potential, every step of the way. I feel more alive now then ever. 

I am living my life to the full. 

Registered Charity No. 1164620