Who's who at the hospital

Find out about the professionals you may meet in hospital.

You may meet a lot of different professionals during your child's time in hospital.1 And it can be overwhelming, as you attempt to take in everything they are saying.2

We’ve put together a list of some of the people you may meet, but not everyone will encounter all of the professionals listed here. Just as each child’s experience of acquired brain injury is different,3, 4 so is each child’s experience of the hospital. Below are a list of some of the people you may meet.  


Paramedics are the senior healthcare professionals at the scene of a medical emergency. They might work alongside emergency care assistants or ambulance technicians in assessing a patient’s condition and giving essential treatment.


We all know what a doctor is, but you may encounter some with a specialism or interest in acquired brain injury. They are responsible for the diagnosis, care and treatment of patients.


These are senior doctors. They are specialists with a high level of experience in their chosen field. They oversee other doctors and give advice.

Neurologist/paediatric neurologist

These are specialists in the brain and the nervous system. They have expert knowledge on the way the brain works and the way it controls the body as a whole.


These are surgeons who specialise in the brain and the nervous system. Strangely enough, surgeons are no longer called “Dr...” and instead revert back to Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms.


Monitor a child’s health and keep an eye out for any changes. They give medication and co-ordinate care with other members of the healthcare team around your child.

They will also help out with personal care, such as eating and bathing.

Health care assistants

Will help and support in the delivery of care and work alongside the nurses.

Social workers

May be on hand to make sure everyone in a family is ticking over while they’re in the hospital. Social workers may also co-ordinate discharge planning, refer children to services in the community and answer any questions that come up. They may also advise on access to benefits.


Sometimes called ‘physios’, these therapists use a wide range of techniques to improve children’s movement. But these techniques are also about improving comfort, safety and a child’s sense of their own independence. They might help a child through a series of exercises to encourage greater movement and flexibility.

Occupational therapists

Sometimes called ‘OTs’, these therapists help children with everyday activities they may have lost the ability to do because of their injury. These might include a child getting dressed or cleaning their teeth and the therapist will help a child perform these tasks safely. At the hospital an occupational therapist may assess a child’s ability to perform these kinds of tasks. They might help with splinting5. They may try to find out how aware a child is of their environment and the people around them.

Speech and language therapists

Help children with their speech and communication when they are out of hospital. But in a hospital setting, they may assess children to better understand their needs.

Speech and language therapists also assess and advise on difficulties with swallowing or feeding.6


Assess what children need in terms of their nutrition. They will develop programs to help children meet these needs.


Child psychologist will help children talk things through. This may help children cope with the procedures they’re going through, for example, or help them with stress or emotional difficulties.


Neuropsychologists work specifically with people who have brain injuries or other neurological diseases. As well as knowing about mental health difficulties, neuropsychologists understand the relationship these difficulties have with the biological and physical processes that go in the brain.

Family therapists

It’s important that parents remember they need support too. Family therapists and social workers may be able to help families with areas of concern and can answer questions.

Patient representatives

Patient representatives might be employed by the health authority or a charity. Families may come into contact with someone from the Patient Advice and Liaison Service. This is a voluntary organisation that has branches in many hospitals. Its advisors support patients and speak with them about issues such as complaints procedures. 


Many hospitals have representatives of major faiths available for those looking for spiritual support. These men and women promote wellbeing in patients regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

Amelia in the garden

Support in your community

The Children's Trust Community Rehabilitation Service provides specialist goal-orientated neurorehabilitation delivered in the child's environment. Our ultimate goal is to maximise the child's participation in everyday life.


  1. Job descriptions drawn from NHS Careers. http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/Demellweek C, Appleton R (2006). The impact of brain injury on the family. In Appleton R, Baldwin T (Eds.), Management of Brain-injured Children (pp261-294). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. Demellweek C, Appleton R (2006). The impact of brain injury on the family. In Appleton R, Baldwin T (Eds.), Management of Brain-injured Children (pp261-294). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. Anderson VA, Catroppa C, Morse SA, Haritou and Rosenfeld J (2000). Recovery of intellectual ability following traumatic brain injury in childhood: Impact of injury severity and age at injury. Paediatric Neurosurgery (32), pp282-290.
  4. Taylor HG (2004). Research on outcomes in pediatric traumatic brain injury: current advances and future directions. Developmental Neuropsychology, 25 (1/2), pp199-225. Fletcher JM, Ewing-Cobbs L, Francis D, Levin HS (1995). Variability in outcomes after traumatic brain injury in children: A developmental perspective. In Broman SH and Michel ME (Eds.), Traumatic head injury in children (pp 3-21). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. NICE guidelines. Head Injury: Triage, assessment, investigation and early management of head injury in infants, children and adults, p60. Powell, TJ (2004). Head Injury: a practical guide (revised edition). Milton Keynes: Speechmark, p59.
  6. Gore H, Wood S (2006). Assessment and management of feeding and swallowing difficulties. In Appleton R, Baldwin T (Eds.), Management of Brain-injured Children (pp141-170). Oxford: Oxford University Press.