Our Director Dr Andrew Harrison attended Glasgow’s HIID event on 22nd May 2019 along with our Clinical Neuro Psychologist Dr Mari O’Neill and Rehab Assistants Elle De Sousa and Gemma Scullion. The event was attended by over 400 people and this year’s theme focused on ‘Vision and Breakthroughs’
TBI and Women in Prison – A Special Case?
Professor Tom McMillan from the University of Glasgow headlined the conference and spoke about head injury and the Criminal Justice System in Scotland. Professor McMillan’s recent research examined the interesting topic of female prisoners and highlighted that 60% report a history of head injury. The proportion of female prisoners is small (less than 6%) and there has been very little research focused on this population. Professor McMillan’s initial findings suggested a high prevalence of health, mental health, and drug use problems in female prisoners and a need for further research and intervention in this area.
How Exercise Changes Your Brain
Professor Madeleine Grealy from the University of Strathclyde gave a very interesting presentation on the impact of exercise on the brain. Research has found that exercise can change the number of connections in the brain, and the shape and structure of cells; however this may be restricted to areas of the brain associated with movement. Exercise has been linked to an overall improvement in general cognition. The current literature suggests that this exercise should be at least 30 minutes per session over 4 weeks. Professor Grealy said that it is unlikely there would be significant changes in cognition post-exercise in the first year post-ABI. It was also noted that the changes that have been seen are not permanent and that people need to keep exercising to maintain the effects. The most significant improvements in cognitive function were seen in adults over 50 years old who engaged in 45 – 60 minutes of moderate exertion on a regular basis.
A Wide Angle View of a TBI
Chris Stewart, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors, explored the ripple effect of someone sustaining a brain injury. An important reminder of the impact not only to the individual but to their partner, parents, siblings, children, friends and employers. Not only does the brain injured person need support but also those around them who are affected. Days like HIID are an excellent opportunity for everyone to network and discover local services to connect with who can provide vital support and information.
VISABILITY: Looking into an accessible future
Laura Walker and Jamie Bruce from Visibility presented technological developments for people with visual difficulties. This included an overview on how to utilise the accessibility features of smartphones to reduce visual confusion on screens by removing wallpapers and increasing font sizes. They also highlighted the use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that can convert text from images such as appointment letters and read this out loud. A number of apps have been developed to support individuals with visual impairment. These include the ‘Seeing AI’ app that can read handwriting or guess someone’s age from a photograph. The ‘Be My Eyes’ app connects you to a volunteer for support and they describe what they can see through your phone. Apps to assist with navigation included ‘Google Maps’, ‘Clew’ for indoors, and ‘Soundscape’ for outdoors. The ‘Scot Talk’ app connects you to the bus service and can alert you when to get off the bus. The presentation also included a live demonstration of bone conducting earphones that enable navigation technology to be used whilst keeping the individual’s ears open to hear traffic.
The day concluded with a panel question and answer session, allowing the audience to discuss issues relating to brain injury, support and rehabilitation.