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.