Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone mother praises work of charity Brain Injury Matters

Olivia Boyd was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumour when she was three years old

A CO Tyrone mother has spoke about the "life-changing" impact her daughter's brain injury diagnosis has had on their family in a bid to raise awareness of the help available.

Olivia Boyd was just three-years-old when doctors found she had a non-malignant brain tumour. Her mum Jill said the diagnosis, following a routine eye test, threw their lives into disarray.

But the mother-of-three last night praised the rehabilitation charity, Brain Injury Matters, after its dedicated programmes helped her little girl to deal with issues that have affected her life and the lives of her family.

The charity's `Family First' specialist service supports children who have suffered an acquired brain injury.

In partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and funded by Big Lottery NI, they work with parents, children and siblings to ensure the family are equipped to take "steps towards a positive future".

"The impact of an acquired brain injury, especially when it is your child, is life-changing for the entire family circle," said Ms Boyd.

"Olivia was only three years old when a brain tumour was discovered following a routine eye test.

"Olivia is now five and struggles with issues such as social anxiety, variable mood and behavioural changes and difficulty with balance and co-ordination.

"We connected with Brain Injury Matters and became involved in Family First, one of their dedicated rehabilitation programmes, following Olivia’s surgery.

"Through the rehabilitation programme, Olivia has received one-to-one support in our home, as well as continuous contact with practitioners.

"This has helped us as a family to implement strategies to process and cope with anxiety, as well as visual strategies to help us and Olivia with various self-care tasks.

"The Family First service has been so helpful to us, especially living in such a rural area we find accessing support so difficult but Family First have come out to us in our home which is so amazing."

Bridget Smyth from Brain Injury Matters said Olivia was a "great example of the positive impact that such programmes can have when they are rolled out".

"Her real-life example emphasises the importance of having dedicated rehabilitation programmes in place for people of all ages," she said.

"Acquired brain injuries can happen to anyone at any time and it is essential that they have access to services which help them and their families live their lives to the full, and Olivia’s case is testament to this.

"Brain Injury Matters will continue to lead the way in rehabilitation for acquired brain injuries and through the International Conference will seek to reiterate how well such programmes can work in this format."

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