What is a brain injury?

A brain injury can be caused by several factors, including:

  • an accident or head trauma
  • brain infections
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • stroke
  • tumour 

About the ABI unit at Epworth Rehabilitation

Led by Professor John Olver, the inaugural Victor Smorgon Chair of Rehabilitation, Epworth Rehabilitation's ABI Unit provides rehabilitation services in both inpatient, outpatient and community settings.

A team of brain injury specialists work with patients and their families to develop goals and build a rehabilitation program aimed at:

  • addressing emotional well-being
  • maximising independence
  • rebuilding strength and fitness
  • re-learning daily living skills to re-enter their local community

The speciality ABI team comprises of:

  • Rehabilitation doctors
  • Dietitians
  • Exercise Physiologists
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers

The team work with patients to develop individual and group therapy programs using the latest techniques and equipment for both cognitive and physical rehabilitation.

Supportive group therapies and assessment clinics

Epworth Rehabilitation also provides additional group programs and assessment clinics that may support someone with a brain injury.

These include:

  • Community mobility group
  • Memory group
  • Vestibular rehabilitation
  • Running group
  • Spasticity clinic
  • Olfactory impairment clinic

Getting people back into the community

Our aim is always to help people return to life in their local community, as independently as possible. Epworth Rehabilitation provides additional supports to help enable independence: The community integration team can help assess and support people to return to home, school or work life and other activities they may have enjoyed before their injury such as running, driving and cycling.

The Transitional Living Centre is a facility in Thornbury that provides accommodation outside of hospital in a four-bedroom house or three self-contained units. Rehabilitation staff help residents integrate into the local community by supporting them to re-learn everyday living skills such as budgeting, cooking, catching public transport and getting to their own appointments.

Find out more about returning to the community here.

A key element of the Epworth Rehabilitation brain injury unit is that we maintain contact with our patients for many years following their treatment, which enables us to monitor and manage any difficulties that can occur once patients return to their daily setting.

Program type:

Inpatient Outpatient

Available at:

Epworth Richmond

Evidence-based care

Epworth is committed to conducting clinical research to deliver best practise in the management of patients following traumatic brain injury. Epworth ABI doctors and therapists are conducting clinical research evaluating various areas of ABI recovery, including:

Sleep Changes during the early stages following traumatic brain injury; PhD research project by Bianca Fedele (Monash University)

Sleep disturbances and fatigue are commonly experienced following a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It often appears in the early stages after TBI, and while patients are in a temporary confused state of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). This study aims to evaluate the nature and quality of sleep in individuals in PTA using gold standard polysomnography.

Olanzapine to treat agitation following traumatic brain injury: A pilot randomised controlled trial – PhD research project by Ruby Phyland (Monash University)

This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the atypical antipsychotic olanzapine in reducing agitation in patients in PTA following TBI over and above recommended environmental management. This is a world-first double-blind placebo-controlled, randomised controlled trial.

Ballistic strength training compared with usual care for improving mobility following traumatic brain injury: protocol for a randomised trial

Trial led by Associate Professor Gavin Williams Mobility limitations are common following moderate to severe TBI and may interfere with basic day to day tasks to restricting participation in higher level involvement in social, leisure, employment and sporting activities. This is a prospective, multi-centre, randomised, single blind trial of a 12-week program, investigating the effect of ballistic training (strengthening exercises) during the early phase of rehabilitation.

Safe return to high-level mobility and cardiovascular exercise after traumatic brain injury; PhD research project by Sara Aldous

It is well documented that young survivors of TBI are less active than their peers. Although guidelines recommend people maintain an active lifestyle, no timeframes or criteria have been established for safe resumption of physical activity following TBI. This project plans to develop implementation recommendations for resumption of physical activity after TBI.

Critical evaluation of spasticity assessment using the Modified Tardieu Scale – PhD research project by Megan Banky (The University of the Sunshine Coast)

The Modified Tardieu scale is a clinical outcome measure used to assess lower limb spasticity. The primary aim of this study is to establish the ecological validity of the Modified Tardieu scale as a clinical measure of lower limb spasticity for walking following injury to the central nervous system.

Comparing use of gold standard movement-based technology to low cost methods in developing a clinical tool for the assessment of arm movements in people with neurological conditions; PhD research project by Michelle Kahn (The University of the Sunshine Coast)

The arm is commonly affected in people with ABI. These people exhibit abnormal, involuntary arm movements, characterised by a flexed, spastic; positioning, particularly when they exert effort, called associated reactions (ARs). The aim of this study is to use innovative technologies to develop and evaluate an ecologically-valid, objective assessment of ARs of the arm during dynamic and functionally provocative tasks, such as walking. The criterion-reference three-dimensional motion analysis (3DMA) and the low-cost clinical alternative, the Microsoft Kinect, will be used to develop an Associated Reaction Movement Score (ARMS).

Epworth HealthCare's Rehabilitation Concussion Clinic;

Clinical Research Project led by Professor John Olver and Dr Rose Acher Concussion is a clinical syndrome and mild subset of TBI, which can result in persisting symptoms for affected individuals and impede their ability to resume their normal lifestyle. The Epworth Rehabilitation Concussion Clinic commenced in 2016. The Clinic has a multidisciplinary team of doctors and therapists who provide individualised interventional treatment for persisting symptoms and assess patient process through administering standardised outcome measures. The main aim of this study is to determine whether intensive treatment by a specialist team can help persisting concussion symptoms resolve so that patients can quickly re-engage with their pre-injury life roles.

Epworth's Spasticity Management Clinic

Epworth's Spasticity Management Team published an education book; The Modified Tardieu Scale. This resource is a guide for clinicians to reproducibly record the outcome of botulinum toxin injection in terms of reduction in spasticity. This book was launched in 2019 and has generated a lot of interest from doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Consequences of olfactory (sense of smell) impairment following brain injury – Completed PhD research project by Melanie Drummond (La Trobe University) This PhD study explored a 'best practice' protocol' facilitating reliable screening for the presence of anosmia (olfactory or sense of small) impairment in individuals who had suffered a TBI. This project directly resulted in the commencement of an Olfactory Impairment Clinic at Epworth HealthCare. This specialised, diagnostic clinic provides assessment and education for individuals (and their significant others) who have suspected changes in their olfaction (sense of smell) and associated taste changes.