Our Founder and Chair Jan Rock founded this charity following her own son’s serious accident. In 2010 the 16 year old sustained serious multiple trauma injuries following a climbing accident; which included a severe traumatic brain injury. Consultants told her that her son had sustained the worst injuries they had ever seen in their entire careers.
Jan and her husband spent every day at Callum’s bedside in PICU and when he emerged from a medically induced coma – three and a half weeks later – he couldn’t see, talk, walk, move, sit up, or swallow. Medics told the family that ‘this is the Callum that they had got back’ but as his parents, they were determined that Callum would have a good recovery. Jan therefore has first-hand experience of child brain injury and the hidden complex ongoing effects that affect everyday life; which is what makes Matrix Neurological so unique. She has actually ‘lived’ the nightmare!
On being discharged from hospital ten weeks later, Jan stopped working to concentrate on her son’s neurological rehabilitation as nothing else existed to effectively meet his complex needs and support his on-going recovery. Determined to help her son and following extensive research she devised her own recovery programme based on sound problem solving and project management techniques, which very quickly delivered astonishing results that surprised even his doctors.
Ten months after his discharge from hospital Callum was back in school; however the teachers did not understand brain injury or his changed support needs; despite the guidance provided by highly experienced Paediatric Consultants.
Jan also fought to gain the help and support Callum needed to continue to progress. Navigating her way around very disjointed public service provision was very difficult and extremely stressful; because community professionals didn’t understand brain injury either. In one afternoon alone she spoke to 33 different people from 13 different organisations. Each one sign-posted her somewhere else, but not one person understood childhood acquired brain injury. However through campaigning and her sheer determination she eventually obtained a direct payment from Middlesbrough Council. This meant she could source the right support for Callum that would continue his ongoing recovery.
By June 2012 Callum had made such significant progress he was selected to be an Olympic Torchbearer in the Torchbearers Relay. He carried the Olympic Torch in his right hand; using the arm Consultants thought would be a ‘useless arm’ after being internally severed!
Four years after his accident Callum was still making significant improvements and he completed a 2 year BTEC Extended Diploma at Middlesbrough College, where he gained the highest grade possible; triple Distinction Star (D* D* D*) and 420 UCAS Points. This earned him a place at University to undertake a BSc. Honours Degree in Physiotherapy. Here life wasn’t easy for Callum. He loved the course and the independence, but sadly he endured bullying, regular discrimination through a lack of understanding and he was socially excluded to the extent that his health suffered – so he left.
However, not one to give up on his dreams – he tried again. On 10 October 21, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Outdoor Education, Adventure & Leadership. A new future now awaits!
In 2014, Jan founded MATRIX Neurological and is now using her experiences and aspirations for Callum’s ongoing recovery to help other children, young people and their parents and carers in their long road to recovery following an acquired brain injury. She continues to learn about acquired brain injuries through working with brain injured children and young people, as well as the their parents and reading the medical research from around the world.
She remains passionate about improving their future life chances, advocating for their complex hidden disability needs, and educating others about the long term impacts of acquired brain injuries in children and young people; in particular, the issues that medical professionals don’t see and are often missed!
MATRIX is now making an important and positive long term contribution to the recovery, safety, welfare and treatment of brain injured children and young people as shown in our outcomes.
"More play increases brain plasticity and makes for better recovery post brain injury"
"Case management for children and young people post acquired brain injury is 'pivotal' to successful outcomes and must be local"
"With support parents cope better so the child has a better recovery"
"Often families don't have the financial capability to access services. We need to rethink how we deliver neuro-rehab services to children and young people"
"Pediatric neuro-rehabilitation cannot be delivered in isolation. The needs of the child have to be looked at both holistically and within the context of the family unit. Parents need to be empowered to be parents in post-acute pediatric neuro-rehabilitation following brain injury"
"Participation in teen sports and normal activities leads to improved quality of life for children and young people post brain injury and helps to maximise outcomes"
"Brain development is complex and prolonged. Brain plasticity is influenced by a range of factors. Plasticity provides a base for neuro-rehab therapies and treatment"
"We need to harness the power of brain plasticity for treating children and young people with brain injury, especially at the key ages of 0-3 and at ages 10-16"