12-day Krysalis Neuro OT Christmas Countdown 2021

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12-day Krysalis Neuro OT Christmas Countdown 2021

Occupational therapists know that life can be Earth's greatest show – if everybody, every day, has a valued role to play.

And this Christmas, we are out to prove it - with theatrical flair!

In the 12-day run-up to December the 25th, we're turning away from covid's painful performance on the world stage to spotlight, instead, a stunning showcase of OT' A-listers'. 

We are rolling out the red carpet for some of the diverse, delightful, heart-rending, and frankly flabbergasting folks and facets of this fabulous profession and the inspiring people it serves.

So, with that in mind, dear audience, please take your seats and join us as the curtains open for a neuro OT show like no other…the 2021 Krysalis Christmas Countdown!

Here for today's update? Jump to your chosen day here:

12 - The Narrators

11 - The Film Producer 

10 - The Musicians

9 - The Dancers

8 - The Panto Stars 

7 - The Childs Star

6 - The Lead Singers

5 - The Diverse-OT Quartet

4 - The Magician

3 - Father Christmas

2 - The OT Actor

1 - Christmas Day, The OT inspired Comedian!


Day 12 - The Narrators


Once upon a time, in a world unknown to many, six brave souls set out to share precious secrets of how they survived life-changing brain injuries.

The origins and ages of the six differed, as did the difficult paths they followed.

Yet, curiously, all of them would arrive at precisely the same place. 

And this is where our story begins.

At a place called Krysalis where the six share all they know

And stand united for the first time– as stars in our Christmas show!

They tell it as it is, and they tell it really well. 

Welcome, one and all, to…The Narrators!




   My story shows that anything is possible with self-belief, determination and a lot of hard work.   


Let's kick off with footballing ace, Charlie Fogarty, honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for outstanding achievement when he was just 21.

Charlie sustained a severe brain injury when he was hit by a car while crossing the road in 2012.

The prognosis was that he would never walk or talk again.

But no one reckoned on the power of Charlie's determined and competitive spirit. 

He now has five international football caps to his name, is a football team manager, and motivates other brain injury survivors through his work as an inspirational speaker…which is how we caught up with him! 

It was shortly after Bukayo Saka's doomed penalty shot at England's Euro 2020 final…of which Charlie had a few choice words. You can read them by following the reference below: [1]




   It's amazing and surprising how much I've done. I don't realise it, but other people do.   


Like Charlie Fogarty, the prognosis for Rebecca was that she would never walk or talk.

For her, however, it was a forecast based on birth-related brain trauma and the meningitis and hydrocephalus that followed.

But Rebecca just wanted to be "like everyone else", and, even after the death of both her parents before she reached adulthood, her resolve to achieve her life goals never swayed.

From horse riding and pet therapy training to covid constraints and homeownership, here are Rebecca's remarkable tales: [2] and [3]




   Who likes [cranberry sauce] anyway? Oh yes! I remember – Malc loves the stuff, but he has Alzheimer's, so hopefully he will forget if I forget!   


Krysalis blogger Anne Ricketts lived alone on a small UK island when mainland England confirmed its first covid cases in 2020.

Less than a month later, the virus crossed the water, and Anne began to discover firsthand how life plays out in a pandemic - when you're also battling a brain injury.

The founder of not-for-profit Global Brain Injury Awareness (GBIA) began sharing her experiences, knowledge, and insights over two years ago in our Talking Heads initiative. 

Her aim? Simply to assist other brain injury survivors in any way she can. 

Here's Anne offering some festive support with her handy hints and tips for Christmas planning post brain injury: [4]

And to peruse her pandemic diary of an ABI survivor, start here: [5]




   Then, in a twist of bad luck, a buzzard swooped down behind me, presumably to catch some breakfast, but instead smashed the windscreen of the small lorry that was coming up behind me…   


Have you ever written a personal appeal about a national crisis that was retweeted by a UK Member of Parliament to his 86,000-plus Twitter followers?

Meet brain injury survivor and blogger Michelle Munt. 

We joined forces with Michelle recently to help build support for the Acquired Brain Injury Bill.

But none of us could have predicted the impact of her appeal…after it was read by the bill's sponsor, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant.

The groundswell of support from the UK's brain injury community – including Michelle's story – helped secure a landmark Government move.

So, is anyone surprised that Michelle's writings around brain injury have become a reliable online source of support for survivors internationally?

No, neither are we. Here is Michelle motivating the UK's MPs: [6]




   The 'silver lining', if you will, is all of the moments of life that I didn't miss out on thanks to my exceptional good fortune of surviving against the odds.   


In a nutshell, David Wozny is who you need when you need to put things in a nutshell.

The Staffordshire brain injury survivor has a knack for getting to the nitty-gritty.

Take his recent open letter to MPs in support of the Acquired Brain Injury Bill, here: [7]

Or, how about his frank discussion with his wife about their relationship after his accident: [8]

And you've got to love David's Valentine's Day ideas on how to recapture the passion for life post brain injury: [9]

David sustained a severe head injury in a cycling accident six years ago that halted his high-flying IT career but catastrophically failed to quash his optimism and sense of humour.

He now takes part in brain injury research, shares his thoughts to support other brain injury survivors, and advises on IT security for vulnerable people.





   Science is showing there are lots we can do within our control to get better outcomes through lifestyle and diet choices. I've jumped on that, and I think that's made a big difference.   


Like a bright star rising in the east (of the Krysalis base camp), artist Ananya Rao Middleton lit up our lives this time last year, despite darkening covid clouds.

The brain injury survivor and chronic illness activist uses vivid art to tell stories of the lived experiences of 'invisible' disabilities.

Her works of wonder have won acclaim from The United Nations, UK Parliament, the BBC and the Tate Modern. 

Take an eye-opening tour of her illuminating art to find out why here: [10]


Day 11 - The Film Producer


   The emotional turmoil of my boy and of myself; the impossible entwining of pain, sleepless nights and agonized days. Ambiguous grief.   

Nichola Leyland


A parent's dread when a freak accident leaves her young son with a brain injury gives way to despair when it seems, there is no one who knows how to help him. 

Nicola Leyland is this year's winner of the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum Film Awards 2021 for her moving personal account of 'A Freak Accident'.

The animation uses brightly coloured toy action figures and scenery to tell of her son's brain injury, helping us to see it through his eyes too.

Nicola's son was just eight when a horse kicked him in the head, fracturing his skull. 

She tells his story simply yet evocatively, documenting the distressing series of events following the accident that left her, eventually, with little choice but to take her son's recovery into her own hands – despite her deteriorating mental health.

This film will resonate with any parent whose child is experiencing "invisible" neurological struggles.

And it illustrates how sudden trauma can force families to the edges of society to cope alone – at the exact time of their direst need for expert support and guidance.

Watch Nichola's moving film here: YouTube: 'A Freak Accident' by Nichola Leyland

And more about the inspirational winners of the 2021 UKABIF Awards here: UKABIFAwards2021


Day 10 - The Musicians


   From stones that have stood five thousand years, Cathedrals and castles built right here,We see factories and farms that went before; Our history waving us by.   

'Together – Song for Wiltshire' 


Music adds its own magic to Christmas - much like charity, Soundabout's impact on the lives of people with severe and profound learning difficulties in the UK.

Soundabout uses multi-sensory music-making techniques that enable everyone involved in its sessions to contribute.

But the charity is facing a crisis caused by a drop in donations during the covid pandemic – and it urgently needs £30,000 to keep its online sessions running.

It has now launched its Soundabout Christmas Hearts Appeal in the hope of sponsorship and other fund-raising support. 

Soundabout's proven techniques include the use of musical instruments, sound, storytelling, resonance boards, and Soundbeam - a contactless movement-into-sound device.

It is also spearheading a national inclusive choir movement, only recently adding five new choirs "born out the of the pandemic" to its UK network.

Soundabout's online sessions include 'home school and after school club' and 'hello, goodnight and routine songs', and birthday parties.

And they've even launched their own news podcast! 

But with Krysalis's Salisbury roots, we had to give a special shout out this Christmas to Soundabout's Wiltshire Inclusive Choir.

They joined the Wiltshire Youth Choir online on International Make Music Day in June to perform lockdown spirit lifter, 'Together – Song for Wiltshire'.

At exactly the same time, 7,000 pupils, gathered in school fields and playgrounds in over 45 Wiltshire schools, started to sing it too.

It was a powerful replacement to a Wiltshire Music Connect schools project that had been cancelled by covid.

Instead, composers Tim Gilvin and Louise Jordan were asked to write a song from words sent in by young people.

Have a listen to the uplifting creation here:"Together - Song for Wiltshire" by Soundabout Inclusive Choir for Wiltshire & Wiltshire Youth Choir

And here's more about the superb Soundabout and their urgent Christmas appeal: Soundabout: Christmas Hearts Appeal

Day 9 - The Dancers


   I feel like we're moving into a space that doesn't exist yet; it doesn't have a name. It's this immersive, VR, digital, theatrical…something!    

CoDa and Dance for Neurology founder, Nikki Watson.


Move over Strictly… it'sCoDa Come Dancing! There couldbe a new contender in future among the UK's favourite family dance shows.

Combining dance, immersive performancedigital and VR media – and a goal tmake dance accessible to people with neurological conditions - CoDa is a UK dance school witpioneering aims.

Founded as a charity by professionally trained dancer, Nikki Watson, whose mother was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, the school won a £206K National Lottery grant this year to provide Dance for Neurology sessions at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN).

The sessions are provided or patients, most of whom have a life-changing brain injury and use wheelchairs, with support from occupational therapists.

But CoDa is delivering other stand-out performances too – on digital and virtual platforms with cutting-edge creative technologies, such as motion capture.

Based on the lived experience of the school's creative consultants – people with neurological conditions – the 10-minute digital dances explore and illustrate how such conditions impact on their lives – with spectacular effect.

Reflecting in a YouTube film which shows how one dance, As The Floor Shifts, was developed, Nikki said it was "a really exciting space because we can design it so its accessible from the moment we jump off."

She added: "I feel like we're moving into a space that doesn't exist yet; it doesn't have a name. It's this immersive, VR, digital, theatrical…something!

"We were able to turn movement into these beautiful visuals…and it was so beautiful."

CoDa is inviting more people with neurological conditions to join the project as creative consultants.

If you have a lived experience you would like to share, or you simply want your voice to be heard, follow the link to CoDa here: CoDa Dance

And watch the making of the amazing, As The Floor Shifts here: CoDa Dance: As The Floor Shifts


 Day 8 - The Panto Stars


There can't be a Christmas show without a pop of pantomime! We're kicking ours off with a just-for-fun Krysalis Christmas Countdown Caption Competition. 


Can you think of another funny caption for the pirate OT meme? Here's our bittersweet attempt (ouch!):


The UK's under-represented male OTs celebrate in Christmas panto-style as another man qualifies…swelling their ranks to 10!


Joking aside, there is a big gap in numbers between male and female occupational therapists in the UK.

The latest snapshot from the Health and Care Professions Council [1] shows that, of the 38,332 OTs registered in the UK last September the 1st, just 3,397 were male, with a further 2 identifying as non-binary.

So, less than nine percent of the profession are men.

More on the importance of OT diversity and the value men bring to the profession here: MEN: on OT's Most Wanted list - but why?and Diverse OT: being a male in a profusely female OT world

Lots more amusing occupational therapy memes here: Facebook: occupational therapy memes

N.B. For those not in the OT-know, the pirate meme caption, 'MO-HO, MO-HO is a nod to the Model of Human Occupation. (Now you know-ho-ho!)

Check back here or on our social media streams tomorrow for the next 'A-Lister' in our 12-day KrysalisChristmas Countdown 2021!


  1. HCPC: Registrant snapshot, September 2021 

 Day 7 - The Childs Star

Words' out of the mouths of babes' aren't always wise…and tweeting them can spring a surprise, as children's OT and award-winning writer, Hazel Knox found out.

Delightedly sharing her daughter's words on Twitter, little diHazel know her message would go viral.

But perhaps it was evidence of the Edinburgh OT's skill in using humour to engage and inspire the children she supports in her work.

Here's that tweet[1]: 


   Overheard my 4yr old talking to her friend about what they want to do when they grow up. (I'm a Children's OT)

D: I want to be like mummy.

F: What does she do?

D: She's an Octopus Scientist.

F: What's that?

D: She helps children and octopuses who find things tricky.   

Hazel Knox, Twitter



Evidence of Hazel's book writing ability came earlier this year when she was announced as one of 11 winners of a Scottish Book Trust 2021 New Writers Award.

She's been writing middle grade and picture books, with a focus on funny, for just six years and draws on inspiration from her two children for a lot of her material.

Hazelfrom Thurso at the northern tip of Scotland,but now living in Edinburghsays her professional role has given her "lots of practice in using humour to engage children and seeing the world and its challenges from their perspective."

More about Hazel here: Scottish Book Trust: New Writers Award 2021 - Hazel Knox


  1. Twitter: Hazel Knox - Octopus Scientist


Day 6 - The Lead Singers


The UK’s brain injury charities are reminiscent of Banarama, the 80s all-female pop trio with big hairdos akin to haphazardly packed bales of hay.

Why? Because ‘it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it – and that’s what gets results’.

(That was the catchy chorus and lengthy title of a song Banarama performed with fellow band, Fun Boy Three in 1982. Proof that if you add three bananas to a trio of lovable fools you can reach No.4 in the UK Singles Chart - while also creating a healthy dessert.)

However, in 2021, the combined voices of the nation’s brain injury charities – the UKAcquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF),Headway, The Disabilities TrustThe Children’s Trust, and The Child Brain Injury Trustwhipped up way, way more than a mere three milk puddings.

And it ‘ain’t’ what they did…

(Although to be fair, they did:


  • Help to secure a landmark Government ruling to set in place the first-ever national strategy to provide effective aftercare for all acquired brain injury (ABI) survivors.
  • Keep funding coming in, even in a pandemic, to provide support to thousands of brain injury survivors of all ages and backgrounds in their own homes or supportive settings – and their families and carers.
  • Fund research into brain injury and available and developing treatments and therapies.
  • Raise awareness of brain injury through education and public campaigns.
  • Provide work, vocational experience and guidance into education/employment/activities for recovering brain injury survivors.
  • Keep beacons of hope shining brightly for all brain injury survivors and those who care about them.)


But it was the way that they did it – that’s what got results! 

To discover what those inspiring ways were, here is a taster looking at how that landmark brain injury strategy came into being: New lived experience evidence as national ABI strategy welcomed.

And find out lots more about the five fabulous charities carrying the voices of the brain injury community ever higher up the UK’s healthcare pop charts here: UKABIFHeadwayThe Disabilities TrustThe Children's Trust, and Child Brain Injury Trust.


Day 5The Diverse OT Quartet


OTs strike activity chords in people of all origins, identities, beliefs and abilities. But they don’t just compose tunes to turn lives around - they sing along to them too!

Meet today’s Countdown stars, our Diverse OT quartet whose voices harmonize in support of diversity and inclusion in the UK’s occupational therapy profession.


   During my whole career, I have been one if not the only male OT in the teams I have worked in.   


Krysalis Neuro-OT, Tom Beech tells all about being on occupational therapy’s most wanted list here: Diverse OT: Most Wanted


   I like to think that we all have challenges - mine happened to be a diagnosis of CP [cerebral palsy]. It’s all character building!   


Being born without the innate ability to walk, Community Senior OT, Louisa Hasseldine has channeled her experiences into helping others: Diverse OT: Louisa 


   In many ways, you feel in the beginning that you are different, but you feel different in a good way because they want you there.   


Clinical Lead OT, Rob Padwick on the benefits of a greater gender balance in the occupational therapy profession: Diverse OT: Being a male OT in a profusely female OT world


   It was nice to be part of something that acknowledged the reality of being an OT from a minority ethnic background.     


Neuro-OT, Jo Bresi-Ando on the need for more minority ethnic OTs: Me, Myself, The OT


 Day 4 - The Magician

If you have never heard the magic word ‘Ab-Rhondda-cadabra!’ as you watch a Giant Rabbit being pulled out of a tiny top hat, then you have never met today’s astonishing A-lister!

With his entourage of dazzling assistants, all experts in their own unique arts of wizardry, welcome to a Master in Making the Impossible Possible, Cardiff politician, Chris Bryant!

This magic act of an MP (for Rhondda, Wales) is a champion of the UK’s neuro community for conjuring up a complex ‘device’ dubbed the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Bill – which worked a charm!

The ‘Giant Rabbit’ Chris needed to pull out of the hat was a well-overdue brain injury strategy for the nation. 


It is a guide for the Government to deliver consistent and effective brain injury care to everyone who needs it in the UK.

It had been nurtured for many years by Chris with expert assistance from the UK’s Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF), Headway, The Child Brain Injury Trust, The Children’s Trust, The Disabilities Trust, The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Acquired Brain Injury, and many more.

Then, just weeks ago, after gallons of elbow grease, they suddenly pulled it out of the hat to start doing what it was born to do!

Sworn to keep the secrets of his ancient art, Chris, of course, cannot reveal what magic elements were used in the making of the mystical ABI Bill that, at last, delivered the giant rabbit strategy.

But WE can! Read all about it here: [1]


   "I was telephoned the other day by someone from aMinister's office who asked whether I would care to come and meet the Minister for tea. When I recounted this to my largely unpolitical partner, he replied, "I didn't know there was a Minister for Tea. Can I be Minister for Scones?"   


Rabbiting on…

MPs (and magicians) are rarely one-trick ponies, so we wondered whether there were other curiosities hiding up Chris’s sleeve.

Our investigation turned to the online speaker records gathered by Parliamentary monitors, They Work For You, a politically non-aligned charity. [2]

There, we discovered Chris, a former Church of England priest, has been cited almost 9,800 times since entering the House of Commons in 2001.

And some of his sayings may indeed point to other abilities in the entertainments industry…

We wrapped up some of the best of them here…with our best wishes to Chris and the neuro communities he serves for a magical Christmas lifted by lots of laughter.


Angels’ sting…

“…the former vicar in me sort of bubbled up, and I remembered all those terrible years when I had to sing ‘Hark the HeraldAngelsSing’ 77 times before we even got to Christmas eve; lots of vicars will not be upset if they do not have to sing it quite that often.” (Exiting the European Union, November 2020)


Dickens and a chicken…

“She has been sitting there pouting, and she is pouting again now. She rather reminds me of when all the young girls in Dickens's Dombey and Son are taught how to pout by saying quietly to themselves the words, ‘Prunes, prism, poultry and potatoes.” (Easter Adjournment, Royal Assent – in the House of Commons, April 2009)


Currying favour…

“…we should provide a hearty welcome for the new members of the EU. I do not think that that means that we can invite them to dinner, sit them down at the table and say, ‘Sorry, we all just hadChristmasdinner, but you're now going to have mulligatawny soup.’” (European Affairs, December 2005)


Russian around…

I just wish to point out […] that when Russia tried to extradite a man from the UK for supposedly murdering a Russian Orthodoxpriest, the said Russian Orthodoxpriestgave evidence in the case in London, thereby proving he had not been murdered.” (2014 JHA Opt-out Decision, July 2013)


Aunt and carbuncle… 

“I believe that it should be razed as fast as possible. It is a hideous carbuncle. I know that we have become accustomed to it, rather like a rude aunt who comes everyChristmasfor lunch, but it is time that we got rid of it and built something appropriate…” (Achievements of the National Lottery, March 2002) 


Channel hopping…

“I once worked for the BBC in Brussels. I got into a taxi and the driver asked me who I worked for. I told him I worked for the BBC, and he said, “I love the BBC. I love ‘Midsomer Murders’, ‘Inspector Morse’ and ‘Brideshead Revisited’.” I did not point out to him that they had been made by ITV.” (Backbench Business — Future of the BBC, October 2013)


Telly favourites…


Midsomer Murders…

“I do not think I would want to live in Midsomer, which seems to be the most violent place in the world. It is a small village, but there appears to be no one left standing. […] How many vicars are there in Midsomer? The vicars of Midsomer have been through nearly every sin in the book, and several that are not in it.” (Public Bill Committee: Communications Bill: Clause 307 - OFCOM's standards code, January 2003)


‘Allo ‘Allo…

“I should apologise for suggesting in the equivalent debate at Christmas that these debates when we all gather together were rather like episodes of ‘'Allo 'Allo!’ —the same characters rehearsing the same lines…” *


The Vicar of Dibley…

#1: “…today's debate has been more like an episode of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’. My hon. Friend Mr. Allen, who is not in his place, is the Councillor David Horton; in the same way as the character really loves the vicar of Dibley but tries to pretend otherwise, my hon. Friend really loves the Labour Government, despite the fact that in his speech this afternoon he was trying to pretend that he does not.” *

#2: “My hon. Friend Shona McIsaac referred to how much she loves food, and she is the Letitia Cropley—perhaps I am being a little unfair, because my hon. Friend's father was a naval chef, so I am sure she would not be known as the poisoner of the village.” *

#3: “We have also heard from Sarah Teather, who must be the Alice Tinker of the House; she never quite gets the joke…” *

#4: “The hon. Member for Uxbridge—or perhaps I mean my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley—is of course Jim Trott, the ‘No, no, no, no... yes’ character in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’. He certainly looks like him.” *

*(Easter Adjournment, April 2009)


Motion for sickness…

“It is just going on and on and on, and every two weeks we come around on themerry-go-round and we make the same speeches all over again, and we still ride our own hobby horses. Frankly, it is not doing us or the nation any good medically or emotionally.”(Business of the House (Today): UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union, March 2019)


  1. New lived experience evidence as national ABI strategy welcomed
  2. TheyWorkForYou

Day 3 - Father Christmas


‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello-ho-ho, what’s going on ‘ere then? Father Christmas impersonating an ex-police officer or the other way round?  

There is a set of four-year-old triplets who know the answer to that after a magical trip to see ‘Santa’ this week – played by their father, former police officer and brain injury survivor, Matt.

Matt sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2019, bringing an end to his career and family life.

His cognitive, visual, and physical challenges require complex rehabilitation, including the neuro occupational therapy Krysalis Neuro OT, Nichola Shellum provides.

But being the best father possible to his three girls remains one of Matt’s major goals – and the reason behind his metamorphosis into Santa this Christmas.

Nichola explained, “Matt decided this year that he wanted to dress up as Father Christmas.

“I helped him with planning and organising the girls’ visit, including his role as Daddy during the visit.

“It involved planning his outfit and planning some Christmas games such as chocolate gold coin treasure hunt and hide the Christmas hat, as well as the usual Christmas bumps and Christmas musical statues! (Oh, and ‘Christmas-bounce-on-the-trampoline’ and ‘throw leaves game’ too!)”

Matt was injured when the vehicle he and his police partner were in collided with a lorry turning in the road ahead. They had been responding to an emergency call in foggy conditions.

By December 2020, however, with support from Nichola and others in his multi-disciplinary rehabilitation team, Matt was stepping into Santa’s shoes for the first time to delight his daughters.

Read more about Matt’s mission to rebuild his parental skills (and a magic grotto complete with chimney!) here: Rebuilding parental skills post brain injury.


Day 2 - The OT Actor






  You’re stripped of the ego that you showed the world outside of this reality show, and it makes you recognise who you are.   

Actor and OT, Matthew Pappadia


Fans of Netflix’s The Circle may already know the outcome of season 3 and, as such, the name Matthew Pappadia will be familiar.

The 30-year-old American actor and fitness model is also CEO of an online health and fitness company.

But that’s not why we are casting him in our Christmas show. 

It’s his muscular masters in occupational therapy that makes him a big hit with us!

Born in Bay Shore, New York, Matthew went on to work there as an OT, with his last job before entering The Circle based in a school for autistic children.

In an interview with a US newspaper magazine, Parade he recalls the experience as “really wonderful”.

He also reveals another ambition – to use drama and theatre to support the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth.

But as for his experience of The Circle, the epilepsy survivor says, “…it was like a therapy session by myself.”

We’ll leave you to watch or read more about the outcome.

But here’s a little hint that all Matthew’s fellow OTs will fully approve of: the word ‘strategy’ pops up nine times in Parade’s report (with spoiler alert!) here:  Parade: The Circle, Season 3 -  Matthew Pappadia interview 


 Christmas Day - The OT-inspired Comedian 

Have you heard the one about the American war hero and the occupational therapist? On Christmas Day 2021, we are honoured to share the incredible story of SSG Bobby Henline (Retd)…



   I had a good time in Iraq, but that last tour was a real blast. It took me four tours to realize my lucky number is three.   

Bobby Henline [1]  


It took an OT to turn a coping mechanism into a game changer for American war heroSSG Bobby Henline (Retd)after he suffered horrific burns in a bomb blast.

Bobby was on his fourth tour of duty of Iraq with the USA’s 82nd Airborne Division in 2007 when an improvised explosive device (IED) destroyed the military truck he was travelling in with four comrades.

Sadly, all of his comrades were killed.

Bobby survived but with multiple fractures and burns to 38 per cent of his body, including his head which was burned to the skull. 

In an induced coma for two weeks, he then spent six months in hospital, later needing a left hand amputation. 

Bobby has also had over 40 skin graft surgeries since his injuries.

Now, the father-of-four is a motivational speaker and comedian, sharing his experiences of the power of humour in human recovery at conferences and other community events.

But he also acknowledges another power that helped skyrocket his rehabilitation, as revealed on his website, Well Done Comedian:


   Singing a ditty over and over garnered the attention of his occupational therapist who challenged him to go to an open mic night and try his hand at comedy.   


Susy Borkuis was that astute OT and, in an interview with a Massachusetts newspaper earlier this year, Bobby comments, “I’ve been trying to prove her wrong ever since.”[1]

Bobby was only 17 in 1989 when he enlisted in the US Army. He went on to serve in the Gulf War and complete three tours of the Iraq war. 

Astoundingly, despite his extensive injuries in the bomb blast during the 4th tour, just two years later he was making his debut on stage as a stand-up comedian.

Through his comedy and motivational speaking, Bobby has reached audiences across the world, particularly burn survivors and injured veterans.

And as the co-founder of Bravo748 Military and Law Enforcement Speakers Bureau, he is also able to support other veteran speakers and entertainers in their missions to help their peers.

We are honoured that Bobby allowed us to share his story to strengthen and inspire all those who are struggling in the UK this Christmas. 

(Author: “Well, who wouldn’t a high five from a real-life American war hero?!”)

More about the incredible courage of Retd Staff Sgt Bobby Henline and his foundation for other veterans, Forging Forward, here: www.forgingforward.org and here: Well Done Comedian

And here’s an eye-opening short film of Bobby’s life six years after the explosion – and the amazing lengths he went to in order to support a young burn survivor: YouTube: Healing Bobby by Red Border Films/TIME

For further details of Bobby’s engagements as a motivational speaker, step this way: www.bravo748.com



  1. Greenfield Recorder: Army veteran comedian to raise PTSD awareness with-Mahar talks


 We hope you all enjoyed our Christmas countdown this year. Merry Christmas everyone!


  1. Charlie Fogarty and the football factory: how pure OT imagination helped net a golden goal ticket after brain injury
  2. Introducing Rebecca...
  3. Saddling up for a once-in-a-lifetime career in neuro occupational therapy
  4. Planning for Christmas when you or a loved one has a brain injury
  5. Covid-19, brain injury and me: Diary of an ABI Survivor, Part One
  6. ABI Bill: brain injury blogger, Michelle's appeal to MPs
  7. ABI Bill: brain injury survivor, David's open letter to MPs
  8. Relationships post brain injury
  9. Learning to love life again after traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  10. Artist, Ananya Rao-Middleton: vividly depicting thelivedexperienceofbraininjuryandchronicillness

Recently on talking heads ...

We are passionate about neurological rehabilitation; our neuro OT blog has been designed to help us share our collective wisdom to influence, educate and spark moments of discussion and reflection.

If you are interested in, or have been affected by brain injury, if you are passionate about occupational therapy, brain injury and neurological rehabilitation you are very welcome… come on in and join us!

New evidence of 'unmet needs' of people with neurological conditions as the UK's seedling brain injury strategy is finally sown. 

New evidence of ‘unmet needs’ of people with neurological conditions as the UK’s seedling brain injury strategy is finally sown. 
New evidence of 'unmet needs' of people with neurological conditions as the UK's seedling brain injury strategy is finally sown. 

A brain injury survivor's open letter to MPs urging them to back the Acquired Brain Injury Bill.

A brain injury survivor’s open letter to MPs urging them to back the Acquired Brain Injury Bill.
'I'm living proof of the win-win outcomes of the right brain injury aftercare': a letter to MPs urging them to back the Acquired Brain Injury Bill.

Back the Acquired Brain Injury Bill: brain injury blogger, Michelle Munt's appeal to all MPs

Back the Acquired Brain Injury Bill: brain injury blogger, Michelle Munt’s appeal to all MPs
Where do you go for help with a brain injury when there are no specialists by your side? Here's Michelle's story – in the hope all MPs will back the Acquired Brain Injury Bill… 

ABI Bill needs you!

ABI Bill needs you!
Urgent alert to the brain injury community and its MPs on behalf of ABI survivors… 

Neuro occupational therapy: supporting autistic people.

Neuro occupational therapy: supporting autistic people.
As a UK study of autistic people is paused for an ethics probe, we look at the role of neuro OTs in supporting the autism community. 


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