Brain disease experts from around the world are meeting in Cardiff this week.
The 600 delegates at the Effectiveness of Rehabilitation for Cognitive Deficits conference, organised by Cardiff University's School of Psychology are drawn from all sectors of health care management and include medical doctors, clinical psychologists, research neuropsychologists, therapists, insurers, lawyers, patients and their families.
Recovery from brain damage can be a long and laborious process for the patient and their family - and a significant financial expense for society. Brain damage arises from head injury, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, and Alzheimer's Disease, and the cost to the NHS of brain damage after strokes alone is said to exceed £2.3 billion a year.
"No age group is immune from brain injury," said Professor Peter Halligan, of Cardiff University's School of Psychology. "It's estimated that each year one million people in Britain, a huge proportion of them young males, attend hospital for head injury. As for stroke, we tend to assume that it affects mainly older people. However, as many as 250 children a year in the UK suffer a stroke and 10,000 of the 100,000 people who suffer a first stroke each year are of working age."
Rehabilitation for brain injury is expensive and time consuming. "Although, not typically well known, it is often the cognitive deficits (e.g. disorders of memory, perceptual, attention, concentration and planning) rather than physical deficits (e.g. paralysis) that prevent and slow full recovery after stroke or head injury," he said.
"In economic terms, the cost of brain damage after stroke to the NHS, for example, is estimated to be over £2.3 billion each year, hence there is a real need to be realistic and concerned about the effectiveness of treatments offered for these deficits."
In bridging the gap between theory and effective clinical practice, the conference will also address related themes such as the assessments used to determine the extent of brain injury, and factors relating to a patient's personality, personal circumstances or emotional well-being, all of which may influence the choice of treatment and rate of recovery.
Facts and Figures
It is estimated that one million people in Britain attend hospital each year as a result of a head injury. Every year, out of every 100,000 of the population, between 10 and 15 people suffer a severe head injury, 15 to 20 people suffer a moderate head injury, and between 250 and 300 people a mild head injury. In general, males are two to three times more likely to have a head injury than females. The age group most at risk of head injury is 15 to 29. In this age group, males are five times more likely to sustain injuries. The death rate following traumatic brain injury is approximately 9 per 1000.
* Road traffic accidents account for 40% to 50% of all injuries.
* Domestic and industrial accidents account for 20 to 30%.
* Sports and recreational injuries account for 10 to 15%.
* Assaults account for 10%.
* Cycling injuries account for approximately 20% of all head injuries in children.
* Each year more than 100,000 people in England and Wales have a first stroke.
* There are close to 60,000 deaths due to stroke each year ·
* Stroke is the third most common cause of death in England and Wales, after heart disease and cancer
* Stroke accounts for over 8 per cent of all deaths in men and 13 per cent of deaths in women in England
* Stroke is the largest single cause of severe disability in England and Wales, with more than 300,000 people being affected at any one time
* The cost of stroke to the NHS is estimated to be over £2.3 billion
* In the UK each year over 10,000 people of working age have a stroke - nearly 30 every day. * It is estimated that some 250 children a year in the UK suffer a stroke.
* Younger stroke survivors need additional services and support to aid their recovery.
* MS is a progressive disease of the nervous system, with no known cure
* It affects 85, 000 people in the UK with 2,500 newly diagnosed each year
* It is the most common neurological disorder amongst young adults
* The onset of MS is usually between 20 and 40 years of age
* It is more common in temperate rather than tropical climates
* It has a wide range of symptoms
* It is unpredictable - affects everyone differently
* There are currently over 750,000 people in the UK with dementia.
* Dementia primarily affects older people. While it is estimated that there are around 18,500 people under the age of 65 with dementia in the UK, the chances of having the condition rise sharply with age.
* Regionally, this figure can be broken down: England 634,000; Scotland 60,600;Wales 40,600. These numbers are expected to rise gradually over the next 25 years or so as the population ages.
* There are currently nearly 18 million people with dementia in the world. This is set to rise to around 34 million by 2025. Of this total, 71 per cent will be living in developing countries.
Source: Cardiff University
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