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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Brain rehab programme's 'success'
The Headstart group
The course helped six students and ran for 17 months
A groundbreaking rehabilitation programme for young people with brain injuries has been hailed a success.

The 17-month course - run by the charity Headway Cardiff - was the first of its kind in the UK and will begin again with new students in September.

The course is designed to give back confidence, self-esteem and forgotten skills to people with brain injuries.

One graduate, Lisa Russell, 22, who lost her memory in a car crash, said it had made her happy with herself.

The course, called Headstart, was originally intended to run for 12 months but proved so successful that it was extended for a further five months.

Ms Russell was one of six students between the ages of 17 and 30 to have completed the programme, which was designed to help move them into voluntary work and supported employment.

Lisa Lambly, who managed the programme, said they were able to help the students with their confidence, self esteem and to help them accept what had happened to them.

"With this particular group we wanted to move them on and back out in to the community to do things that young people should be doing," she said.

After her car crash two years ago, Ms Russell could not remember anything that happened to her before she was 19.

Lisa Russell
All my family and friends have had to fill in the first 19 years of my life, like tell me what I used to do, what I wanted to be when I grew up
Lisa Russell

She awoke thinking the woman sat beside her bed was not her mother but only her next door neighbour.

"It was scary, I was really confused," she said. "I was upset and angry more than anything.

"All my family and friends have had to fill in the first 19 years of my life, like tell me what I used to do, what I wanted to be when I grew up."

Ms Russell said she had spent hours looking at photographs of herself to try to fill the gaps but that Head Start had helped her to start a new life for herself.

"(The course) taught us to accept our abilities and our disabilities. It challenged the difficulties I have but then, when I was unable to do something, it helped with my strengths and emphasized what I could do.

"It has been brilliant. The doctors and surgeons saved me but Headway have made me who I am today and I am happy with the person I am now because I am lovely."

A new Headstart course will begin in Cardiff in September with nine students.




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