A study conducted by Fundación ONCE with the European Social Fund has been published and identified that 72.64% of people with ABI experience difficulty with returning to work due to their disability.

The report was presented in December 2016. The study involved collating data from Spanish people with ABI and included 400 questionnaries, 24 interviews  and 3 focus groups.  The following was discovered:

  • 42.8% retired because of ABI.
  • 23% are looking for a job.
  • 13.5% currently work.

*Currently 80,224 people in Spain live with ABI at the time of their working life.

Age was found to be a distinguishing factor with those returning to work: 61.97% of people with ABI were active between age 16 and 32, compared to only 14.56% of people aged 50+ who worked or were actively looking for a job.

It is clear that for those who suffer from a brain injury, the road back into employment is precarious. Rehabilitiation is essential as well as processes focused on assisting individuals with ABI to get back into work.

FEDACE proposed some of the following solutions to address this matter:

  • Focus on work placement rehabilitation as soon as possible (during the first 8 weeks after the brain injury) to help prepare the individual to return to work, providing any support that they may need.
  • Prioritise reintegrating the person into their previous job role, before exploring alternative employment options.
  • Put controls in place with businesses to reduce the number of individuals unable to return to their job after an ABI.
  • Assess the job requirements and make adaptations as needed in order for those with ABI to fulfil their responsibilities.

The full report is available on fedace.org.


Report presentation last december. From left to right: José Luis Donoso (Fundación ONCE General Manager); Carmen Balfagón (IMSERSO General Manager), Inmaculada Pastor (CEADAC Director), Luciano Fernández (FEDACE’s president).




Top picture: Presentation at CEADAC.


Click here for Eco Helmet YouTube video link


One of the challenges many of our NGOs face is brain injury associated with cycling through lack of safety measures and helmets, helmets, helmets!

An exciting development in the field of design and engineering is set to revolutionalise the future of cycle helmets and due to be launched in 2017.  Winner of the James Dyson Design Award 2016, the honeycomb cardboard cycle helment is affordable, eco friendly with the same shock absobancy as polystyrene.  Constructed from waterproof, recycled paper, they fold flat and can be easily stored in a bag for people on the go.

The Eco helmets are expected to cost around £4 (€4.54) each and have the potential to be easily accessed through vending machines placed next to bike hire points.

Click for more information about EcoHelmet

Click here for Press Coverage, Dezeen

Click here for Press Coverage, Guardian


One of the most frequently cited research on cycle helmets is a study from Thompson and Rivera which found that cycle helmets can significantly reduce the chances of cyclists sustaining head and brain injuries by between 63 and 88%.

A Cochrane review considering five case-control studies from the UK, Australia and the USA illustrates a large and consistent protective effect from cycle helmets, reducing the risk of brain injury by up to 88% and injury to the upper and mid face by 65% (Helmets for preventing head and facial injuries in bicyclists, Thompson et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 1999).

Cochrane reviews are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care research – see the Headway UK website for more information

‘Cycle Helmets & Safety’ information provided by Headway UK




The Traumatic Brain Injury Association of Finland celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Today it is an organization that is highly regarded by its members and circles of healthcare professionals alike. To mark the occassion, let us recap on the history of Aivovammaliitto and its notable achievements to date:


Aivovammaliitto is a non-profit organization providing multiple services.  It operates as the umbrella body for regional organizations supporting people with brain-injury, as well as their families and friends and has formed a close realtionship with  healthcare systems focused on traumatic brain injuries.  Aivovammaliitto has a budget of over half million euros with close to 90% of this money coming from the government-owned gaming and betting monopoly.

Aivovammaliitto was started by four separate regional associations before the national body was formed in 1992 to coordinate their activities (Aivovamma = traumatic brain injury; liitto = association).  There are now nine regional organizations in Finland covering almost the whole country as well as numerous local activity groups. All the work carried out by the regional organizations and activity groups is based on voluntary community work.

General assembly 2016_FINLAND.jpg

Aivovammaliitto quick facts:

  • Aivovammaliitto has 5 full-time employees and 1 part-time employee.
  • The Board is comprised of 7 volunteer members and the General Manager who acts as Secretary of the Board.
  • There are approximately 10 annual board meetings with the summit being the General Assembly that convenes twice a year.
  • The number of delegates in each regional association is determined by the number of its members.
  • The current membership figure is over 2,200. Within four years, this number has increased by 20%.

Aivovammaliitto has recognised the small number of members (compared to the number of people with TBI and their families) and launched special measures to increase membership.  They give special attention to family and friends of injured members.


Current Care Guidelines for hospitals

In recent years Aivovammaliitto has actively worked with brain injury professionals including neurologists, neuropsychologists, emergency personnel and so forth. In Finland, numerous sectors of medicine have formulated what is known as the ‘Current Care Guidelines’ covering a vast number of illnesses, injuries and traumas to have a nation-wide code of conduct of the best possible practices. These are used to improve treatment and ensure the best practices become a nationwide standard to offer the same high level of care all over the country.

Aivovammaliitto initiated and conducted a series of seminars targeted at the main hospitals, to discuss and formulate the best practice and overall care given to those with a brain injury.  There were three annual meetings held under the theme of ‘Consensus’ which focussed on theCurrent Care Guidelines’ for adults with traumatic brain injury.  Today, the guidelines are now followed all over the country.  One main emphasis was to ensure that strict practices are followed straight after an accident when a person is admitted to emergency care.  This was to make certain that the injured person would receive the best possible intensive care including MRI (Magnetic 2 Resonance Imaging), which would also help the injured individual at a later stage when the case was handled by an insurance company.

Brain Injury & Education

Aivovammaliitto has created and trained a network of people to educate students, emergency personnel and healthcare professionals about brain injury through a series of lectures.  Their educators are individuals who have suffered from a brain injury themselves and who share their challenges and experiences.  They provide more than a hundred sessions annually on voluntary basis. Experiential based educators dates back to 1988-1991, when the National Rheumatism Union managed the national ‘Patient Lecturer’ project. An example of Aivovammaliitto’s approach to the core subject was the 25 Year Jubilee Symposium which took place in March. The event was organized in cooperation with Invalidiliitto (the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities). The two day event was aimed at healthcare professionals, students as well as the members of Aivovammaliitto and Invalidiliitto.

Assistance to members & Adaptation Training

Adaptation Training__FINLAND

Aivovammaliitto offers various services to brain injured people and their families. There is long tradition of organizing special events that are called ‘Adaptation Training’. These courses are often a five-day event. Assisted by outside healthcare professionals, the participants receive explanations on what brain injuries are about and how they affect a persons daily life. There are also other types of adaptation training events aimed to give advice on how to cope with fatigue, relationships between a husband and wife, families, young injured people, etc. The regional associations and the local action groups organize regular ‘Peer Support’ meetings which are open to everybody.  These include discussions on relevant topics and various outings are also arranged, for example picnics, bowling, theater and so forth.



Further to a productive meeting at Cascais, BIF are aiming to liaise with the World Health Organisation to address the status of ABI within the ICD and ICF classification.

What is ICD & ICF classification?

ICD stands for the International Classification of Diseases.  ICD consists of codes which define diseases, injuries, disorders and other related health conditions.  When a patient is admitted to hospital they are given an ICD code that allows global health trends and statistics to be monitored.  Health information is shared and compared based on hospitals, regions, countries, conditions and across different time periods, which can then be used for clinical and research purposes.

ICF stands for the International Classification of Functioning.  ICF codes provide a standard language to define and measure the health and disability of an individual.

Why is ICD being addressed by BIF?

ABI does not currently have a unique ICD code and therefore is not formally recognised in the scientific and legal field.  Therefore when a patient is admitted to hospital, acquired brain injury is treated as a secondary effect to another condition e.g. meningitis.  This makes it very difficult to monitor ABI statistics in countries across Europe and the world.  For some countries this can be the difference between securing or loosing funding as well as governmental support.

A study by Headway UK carried out between 2013-2014, discovered that every 90 seconds, someone in the UK was admitted to hospital with an acquired brain injury (ABI).  This included those who had suffered from a head injury, stroke, brain tumors and other conditions e.g. meningitis. All ABIs had risen in the UK by 10% since 2005-2006.  With the UK population just over 65 million, these statistics provided a touching insight into the number of individuals and families potentially affected by brain injury globally per year.

Why is ICF being addressed by BIF?

ABI does not currently have a unique ICF code.  This means hospitals lack clear guidelines on how to care for people with various levels of ABI from when they are admitted to hospital to when they are discharged.  A unique ICF code for ABI would help facilitate a standard level and quality of care.

What does BIF hope to achieve?

BIF is aiming to address the following areas with WHO:

  • ICD and ICF classification for ABI
  • The current support given to family and caregivers looking after those with a brain injury.
  • Conducting specific network research on cognitive disability and gain insightful statistics that can be used for awareness and governmental campaigns.
  • How WHO might be able to work with the governments of some of our associations to promote health coverage for those with a brain injury as well as their families.



28th-29th April 2017 – Cascais Portugal

BIF members met in Cascais, Portugal at Novamente’s head office for the Annual Spring General Assembly.


At the heart of BIF is the opportunity for our associations to meet and share news.  Other member NGOs can thereby gain insights and ideas on how to further assist individuals suffering from a brain injury, as well as the families supporting them in their home country.  Some of the highlights from the Spring General Assembly include:


  • Action for Brain Injury Week (ABI week) 8th-14th May 2017 – Headway created a platform with the theme ‘A New Me’ for people to creatively share their experiences and challenge the misconceptions of brain injury.  Through this platform, they were also able to demonstrate the value of having access to the right help, at the right time.
  • ID cards for survivors with brain injury – these were developed as part of the Justice project to raise awareness of brain injury throughout the criminal justice system across the UK and has received the backing of the National Police Chief’s Council, Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.  Nearly 800 cards have been issued with very positive feedback – plans for the public launch of the initiative are underway.


  • Brain injury awareness & television – Novamente was featured in 3 scenes of a soap opera with 1 million viewers.  They were filmed working and talking to a client explaining the problems associated with brain injury, which provided a significant contribution in raising the profile of brain injury in Portugal.
  1. Click here to see behind the scenes
  2. Click here for Scene 1 (skip to 32 minutes, 01 second)
  3. Click herefor Scene 2 (skip to 32 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Opportunity to conduct a legal study – Novamente was given the opportunity to conduct a global legal study regarding the law and brain injury.  The aim was to provide insight into a law that exists/doesn’t exist in other countries to help member NGOs have access to reports and statistics that could benefit their governmental campaigns on a regional level.  Members were given the opportunity to put forward their ideas and the study is currently underway.


  • FNATC successfully signed a charter in San Pellegrino regarding the rights of those in a vegetative state.  This was designed to protect and ensure the dignity, freedom and rights of people in a vegetative state, minimal conscious state and those with severe acquired disabilities.
  • FNATC are working on identifying the services available to people with severe ABI across Italy (there are 20 regions in Italy).  Gaining such statistics will provide touching insights that will assist with support campaigns.


BIF members have access to all country reports for their reference and can contact member NGOs for support and further information.