• Hazel Thompson is activities co-ordinator at The Children's Trust. Here she recalls her experiences with a young boy called Elliot who was severely injured by a car.

    Watching 12-year-old Elliott happily rolling down a grassy hill in a park on a sunny day was incredible. Earlier that year it was a very different story...
    The accident
    Elliott's mum, Jade, had been waiting for Elliott to meet her after school at a local park. As the minutes passed and Elliott did not appear, she tried not to worry. After checking at home she headed out to look for him. She searched his route home from school and when she didn't find him, she decided to return home again.  When she arrived a police officer was waiting for her. Elliott had been hit by a car. After colliding with the car’s windscreen he had landed on the ground hard - hitting his head.

    Elliott had suffered a severe brain injury, causing multiple bleeds and swelling. Jade was told Elliott might not regain consciousness. But after five days he began to breathe on his own. And over the next six weeks he started to respond to his surroundings.
    Severe brain injury
    Elliott struggled see or speak or walk. He was also incredibly confused. At first, he could not even recognise his parents. Over two months in hospital Elliott started eating solid foods and his speech and sight began to return. But he still had a long way to go, so it was recommended Elliott come to The Children’s Trust.

    The Children’s Trust
    With help from his physiotherapists, he managed to walk within his first few weeks. But other things took longer. Elliott was still disorientated. Visual charts (flowcharts) were used to explain to Elliot why he was here and what he would be doing each day. The visual charts reduced his levels of anxiety.
    Days out
    Trips out from The Children’s Trust played a huge part in his rehabilitation.
     Elliott was responding well to the flowcharts and was happier with clear structure. So before each outing we would put together a simple flowchart, outlining what we were going to do. The flowcharts had a big impact on Elliott’s behaviour when we were out. But it wasn't easy at first. On one trip Elliott decided he wanted to drive the car! He sat in the driver's seat and refused to move. We had to use all our persuasive powers to get him into the back. After this, we changed the flowcharts to show he had to sit in the back of the car. Eventually Elliott learned to anticipate what was going to happen and how he should act. This helped him feel less worried too.
    Your support
    40,000 children a year in the UK acquire a brain injury. Please would you make a donation now to help children like Elliot get the care and support they need following a severe brain injury.
  • Tommy in a pushchair
    Tommy came to The Children’s Trust after he fell 50ft from a hotel balcony onto concrete. He was only two and the accident left him unable to walk, talk or feed himself. This is the story of his remarkable recovery.

    Tommy's story is told in his mum Tina's words: “We were on holiday in a hotel in the Canary Islands. We were at the hotel and Tommy was having fun running between me and his Dad on the balcony. I went to get a nappy and heard my husband scream, “No!” The Fall Tommy had turned right instead of left and ran over a low wall without a railing. He fell 50ft onto concrete. A passing doctor saved his life. He was rushed to hospital where he was stabilised. He had no broken bones but he was in a coma. Three days later he was flown to the Great Ormond Street Hospital. The doctors could not give a prognosis but they said he would never be the same child we took on holiday. We were told to expect the worst. Intensive Care After two weeks in intensive care he finally woke up. I would tell him his favourite jokes and sing the songs he knew. But his body was lifeless. Tommy's recovery was slow. He had damaged an area of his brain called the cerebellum. It meant he could not sit up, he was paralysed down one side of his body, he had no speech and had to be tube-fed. One month later he was transferred to The Children's Trust for rehabilitation. Hope I was terrified to hand my child over to the therapists. I told my husband we would stay one month. But when reality started to sink in, I realised it would be longer.
    Tommy in a suit that helped him stand
     And my anger and hurt soon vanished when Milla (his key worker) sat me down and reassured me we were there for one purpose – to help my son. Finally it felt like I had someone I could talk to, someone who listened and understood. Over the following weeks the transformation took place I saw how the therapists adapted their techniques for my little boy. They saw him as I did, a 2 year old boy who just wanted to play. And play he did – drums, puppets, dinosaurs, castles, gardening, window washing. The list was endless.
    Tommy using a walker
     And I saw how they did this for each child. There is no magic formula that works for every brain injury. Every case is different. They worked day and night, coming up with ideas that worked. Slowly Tommy learnt to sit up, then to crawl and, before we left six months later, Tommy had walked six steps. He is also talking again and feeding normally. Obviously Tommy still has problems, but without the foundation to his recovery he received in those crucial first six months after injury we would not be where we are now. Tommy The therapists at the Trust challenged him and pushed him beyond his limits. They also taught me and my husband how to do the same. You just assume that he cannot do anything because of his injury. But the therapists never looked at it that way – they focussed on Tommy and what he could achieve. I think he is thriving because of this and I am a better parent because of what I learnt from Milla and the people at the Trust.” Tommy's accident changed his life and those of all the people around him. Fortunately Tommy was able to come to The Children’s Trust and receive specialist rehabilitation treatment. As a result it has given him the best chance possible. But 40,000 children in the UK get a brain injury each year. One every 15 minutes. We want to give the same kind of opportunities that Tommy had to every one of them. Please help children with severe brain injuries like Tommy.
  • For Ellie, 2015 has been a year that would challenge anyone…

    Ellie in the Christmas spirit
     This Christmas, some of the children we care for are heading home. Sadly, some are staying. In the case of one young girl called Ellie, this Christmas will be very special as she heads home for good. She is finishing a seven month rehabilitation programme at The Children’s Trust.

    Ellie’s story is incredible.

    At 12 she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukaemia. She was rushed to hospital and started treatment. Then, between treatments, she caught glandular fever which attacked her liver.
    Ellie in ICU
     Then, while in hospital, Ellie developed seizures, at one time having 16 in one day. Her speech deteriorated completely Ellie’s illness led to abrain injury. Following that, Ellie had three bleeds on her brain. At one point, Ellie’s family were told to gather round and prepare to say goodbye. But Ellie fought on. The next morning she was still alive, although in a coma. Ellie’s parents were told she might end up in a Persistent Vegetative State – again Ellie had other ideas. She regained consciousness but she could not move or speak. Finally, she came to the Children’s Trust. Over the last seven months we have seen her personality come back: she is doing more for herself, she is starting to talk and she is excited about going to school and learning. Her physiotherapy has been a big challenge but, through persistence, she can now move her left hand and stand with assistance. This Christmas Ellie will be going home for good and the whole family is preparing a massive party. However, not all of the children at The Children’s Trust will be at home for Christmas. Many will be spending Christmas at our national specialist centre in Tadworth.
    Ellie in hydrotherapy
     No child wants to spend Christmas away from home, so we do everything possible to make Christmas enjoyable for every child. We put up decorations, arrange parties and take the children on outings. And of course, we make sure Santa comes to visit! We also make sure every child receives apresent which has been picked out especially for them. Please help us make this time of year special for those children with severe brain injuries who are being cared for at The Children’s Trust this Christmas. Ellie and Mum

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