Neuro OT review – Recolo Conference

Written by Jo Throp Posted in Blog

Neuro OT review – Recolo Conference

Neuro OT review – Recolo Conference: ‘Growing a New You’.

A enjoyable day was spent with the Recolo team for their first annual conference hosted by ABI Solutions at One Great George Street, London.

For me, the most staggering fact of the day was learning from Prof. David Sharp, NIHR Professor and Consultant Neurologist at Imperial College London, that brain injury triggers progressive neurological degeneration. Axons die over many years, 20 years to be accurate, and we don’t know why. As much as 1.5% of white matter can be lost per year. The numbers are staggering and more than anything else, these figures highlight in ‘black and white’ the consequences of injury to the brain, which is, by the nature of its anatomy, a fragile organ.

Professor Barbara Wilson, Clinical Neuropsychologist and Founder of The Oliver Zangwill Centre spoke passionately about the value of lifelong rehabilitation. She advocated that rehabilitation is a lifelong process and there is no time limit for the benefits of rehabilitation to be seen. Our focus should be on real life problems. Clinicians must always ensure that our clients feel ‘safe’ within the rehabilitation process to enable people to achieve meaningful goals. The latter point is so important. As clinicians we should advocate for our clients who can often feel ‘in’ and ‘overwhelmed by’ but not ‘central to’ the process.

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Cognitive Neurosciences and Deputy Director, UCL, spoke about human adolescence. Very topical to current news stories she highlighted that 75% of adult mental disorder has its onset before 24 years of age. Most importantly was the influence of peers on this age group. It has been found that adolescents have the capacity to understand risk for a wide number of activities, however the risk of being excluded from their peer group carries the greater weight and therefore adolescents will be more likely to be involved in risk taking behaviour when with their peers. To support these insights we also learnt that adolescent mice will consume more alcohol when with other adolescent mice!

Film maker Lotje Sodderland shared her thoughts around “regaining her story” following a life changing stroke. The positive approach to life that she has now, was sprinkled with valuable insights around adjustment and acceptance. She explained how she has worked with her new brain to find value in the ‘new dimension’. What an inspiration she is to us all, her insights will help many stroke survivors and moved many in the room.

Dr Peter Tucker, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Recolo approached the subject of goal setting in rehabilitation using musical notes! He stressed it was important for clinicians to keep focused on the value of intrinsic goals in neuro rehabilitation. Goals must be important and relevant to the individual and combine the objective and the action plan. He also quite rightly highlighted that client goals are not generally SMART in nature but provide immense value.

The after lunch ‘grave yard’ shift was lifted by Magician and Magic Circle Member Jamie Raven. The highlight of the day was to see Stuart Brazington, Partner at Royds Withy King and our very own Neuro OT Karen Holt take part in the event. Stuart was offered the choice of three envelopes, choosing the correct envelope he was lucky enough to win £5! (We won’t mention the £50 and £5,000 that were in the remaining two!!).

Dr Robin Bennett Clinical Psychologist from Recolo explored PTSD and acquired brain injury. He explained, that our earlier understanding was that if you were unconscious at the time of the traumatic event you did not encode memories. This has been proven to be untrue. A conditioned fear response is associated with a reminder of the event, trigger factors could be a word, a place or a smell. The primary event can become a narrative that reinforces the trauma. The ‘narrative’ can stem from the environment, either the physical or social environment. It is so important for clinician to help our clients ‘change their story’.

The day was rounded up by Dr Sophie Gosling Consultant Clinical Psychologist from Recolo exploring the use of creative approaches within clinical practice, including engaging a child’s interest using creative arts such as magic, music and storytelling. Judging by the line up of events at the Recolo Conference this year, they obviously decided to use these principles on the conference delegates, it proved to be a resounding success!

Neuro OT - A Guide


About the Author

Jo Throp

Jo Throp

Jo Throp is a neurological occupational therapist and clinical director at Krysalis Consultancy - an established nationwide specialist neurological occupational therapy consultancy which provides community-based rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation services.

Jo is a practicing clinician with a passion for occupational therapy. Since qualifying in 1997 she has worked within the specialist field of neurology and has extensive experience of setting up and managing both community and inpatient multi-disciplinary neurological rehabilitation services, within both the NHS and independent sector.

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