Calvert Reconnections, based in the heart of the Lake District, is the UK’s first intensive acquired brain injury rehabilitation centre focusing on outdoor activities. The centre combines traditional interdisciplinary clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors to maximise recovery, so that individuals have a real pathway back to everyday life.
At the Calvert centre (pictured below) there are various types of outdoor adventures that you can take part in, from reflective activities like bird watching, gardening and fishing, right the way up to more higher intensity activities like sailing, rock-climbing, canoeing and abseiling. This means that no matter how physical able a person is, or how far along in their recovery they are, Calvert is able to support them and their rehabilitation at every stage.
These outdoor activities bring massive therapeutic benefits, and, crucially, by keeping active people are able to improve their mental and physical wellbeing during their recovery following a brain injury.
Claire Appleton is Head of Service at Calvert's centre in Cumbria. She is an occupational therapist and has also worked in a number of leadership roles in the NHS before joining the team. Not only does Claire have a passion for ABI and stroke rehabilitation, but she also has an understanding about the difficulties that people can face when recovering after a brain injury.
One of the biggest problems is a lack of confidence. Calvert helps build this back up by making sure that participants are involved in every aspect of the activities they take part in. As Claire told us, during their stay “people complete meaningful tasks, from concept to completion, in a real-world setting. If, for example, the activity is canoeing, we look at the weather forecast, the number of boats required, where to journey and whether to take a packed lunch or not. Everyone is involved in the planning and decision-making process throughout the day.” By getting everyone involved in this decision-making process it gives people more responsibility, which prepares them for everyday life and means they have more confidence that they can integrate back into society.
Claire is just one of many people who works in the interdisciplinary team at Calvert. Claire explained that this varied team is reflective of Calvet’s philosophy and beliefs when it comes to rehabilitation. “We believe in a whole team approach; we join participants during outdoor activities, we eat together and have fun together socially. This fosters a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.”
This joint approach to rehabilitation is so important because no one should be, and no one is alone during their rehabilitation. By fostering this togetherness Calvert is able show this. The first stages after a brain injury can be really overwhelming and it may seem like there is just no support out there. But there are groups that can aid everyone’s recovery, ranging from weekly support meetings, all the way to the more unique experiences that Calvert offers to brain injury survivors.
Every single person who is recovering from a brain injury, no matter how serious, will have a different set of needs and require a different type of rehabilitation. By tailoring the programme they offer to the individual every single person who Calvert is able to help gets the necessary support that they need to build their own pathway back to everyday life. And by supporting the individual with an interdisciplinary approach and making them feel like part of a community, Calvert can help anyone.
This therapeutic model centred around outdoor activities is a truly unique approach to rehabilitation. Not only does it offer people the opportunity to develop the adaptive processes of the brain after injury, but it also improves people’s mental health, confidence and physical wellbeing.
It goes to show that the perception that rehabilitation has to be done at home or in a medical centre is outdated. Rehabilitation can happen anywhere and be any activity that gives you more cognitive power and confidence in everyday life after your injury.
For more information about them head over to their website or find them, and hundreds of other support services, in the Neuro Recovery Directory today!