Had I not listened to RTÉ One this morning, I would have missed a brilliant quote by one of Ireland’s most famous philosophers, Eamon Dunphy, who apparently once said that “football is played on grass, not on paper”.
Ok, Eamon is probably better known as a brilliant ex-soccer player and a very controversial commentator on soccer and all sorts of other things far less important. Whatever… this quote is just brilliant in its simplicity.
Tonight, the German soccer team is in town preparing for tomorrow’s match against Ireland. On paper, the outcome is clear. But who knows what’ll happen on the pitch?
On paper, the outcome is clear for persons with severe and very severe acquired brain injury. But who knows what’ll happen to each one of them if they get the right level of care and therapy?
We went to Germany in November 2013 because there was a waiting list for Pádraig’s admission to the NRH of more than a year. And I could not accept this infuriating delay. Worse, I am learning now that in cases like Pádraig’s there is a view that patients should not be “treated”, they should be “assessed” in a SMART bed following the Sensory Modality Assessment and Rehabilitation Technique, “to assess levels of awareness functional, sensory and communicative abilities of adults in vegetative (sic!) or minimally-conscious states”. It is “conducted over a three week period by an accredited assessor with subsequent treatment in the following eight weeks”.
Which gives us, roughly, the three months of stay in the NRH every person with a severe acquired brain injury gets in Ireland.
Every expert, in fact any person who had anything to do with a severe acquired brain injury knows that eight weeks of treatment are absolutely inadequate.
Yet this is what is being offered in Ireland.
And after that the nursing home for the majority of injured persons.
Who would ever give up like that on people who have terminal cancer? Who would ever give up like that on people who have a kidney condition that they will eventually die of?
Pádraig’s accident has radically changed his life, the lives of his family, and the lives of his friends. The impact of the truck on his head was devastating.
But there is much much more. What Pádraig has done over the past two years and, more, what he is about to do, Pádraig will change the way society and the system will look at and deal with severe brain injury.
The match will be decided on the grass, the pitch. Not on paper.
And the underdogs can win – despite…