Two Day International Forum on Life and Living
with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI)

Please note that because the event has been postponed, registration links will currently not work.

Leave No One Behind

Forum Programme


“However careful we are, and however slim the odds, a severe brain injury is something that can happen to anyone, and any family,
at any time.”

24th March 2020

Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI)

15:00 – 18:00 followed by reception

Co-hosted by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) – Register here with the RCPI.

Professor Joseph J. Fins (Cornell and Yale)

Professor Andreas Bender (Therapiezentrum Burgau and University of Munich)

Professor Mac MacLaughlin (University of Maynooth and WHO)

Professor Mark Delargy (National Rehabilitation Hospital)

25th March 2020

The Richmond Centre (INMO)

9:30- 17:00 followed by reception

Register here

Families affected by sABI

National and International Therapists working with sABI Clients

Professor Joseph J. Fins (Cornell and Yale)

Professor Andreas Bender (Therapiezentrum Burgau and University of Munich)

Moderator: Cormac Ó hEadhra (RTÉ)

Register here for Day One, Day Two, or – at a reduced rate – for both Forum Days..


The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to “leave no one behind”. It is an ambitious plan of action of the international community towards a peaceful and prosperous world, where the dignity of an individual person and equality among all is applied as the fundamental principle.

Together with the UN, we believe that it is critical to ensure the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disabilities – including the so-called ‘hopeless cases’, including those with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI) and their families.

The HSE’s “Model of Care (MOC) for the provision of Specialist Rehabilitation Services in Ireland” (November, 2017) stated that “Many community residential options for younger severely disabled people do not meet their unique needs where continuing slow functional recovery is possible many years after their injury.

We have organised the 2020 Forum to raise awareness amongst medics and other professionals, but also the general public, that especially those with a sABI have very specific needs and that they have rights: rights to see their family, rights to take decisions, rights to appropriate rehab, rights to a decent life. Moreover, we will demonstrate that not only do these rights already exist, but they can be claimed and realised: claimed as shown by recent research into approaches to neurological rehabilitation and good governance; realised as shown by the pilot Day Rehabilitation Centre demonstrator recently implemented by the An Saol Foundation and supported by the HSE.

Word-leading international experts will highlight that it is not only our medical, ethical and legal obligation to care for those with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI), but that there are very reasonable chances of a meaningful recovery and improvement given adequate rehabilitation treatment; that even persons in a state of unresponsive wakefulness have a right to ongoing, specialised treatment.

It has long been established that information poverty is the cause of death of tens of thousands of people every day. They die, not because they do not have access to medicines; they die, because they do not have access to information that could save their lives.

We will not just make the information available that will save the lives of those with a sABI but we will realise their right to meaningful care and rehabilitation. We believe this information will eventually allow life and living with a sABI and put an end to the inadequate maintenance-based nursing home care regime that regularly leads to severe, yet avoidable, secondary injuries and to significant physical and mental health issues amongst those affected.

The An Saol Foundation launched its proposal for a three-year pilot project, involving the establishment of a Day Rehabilitation Centre, on 18 June 2016 in Dublin’s Lighthouse Cinema and the Distillery Building (Bar Council), with the support of Headway, ABI Ireland, the Clinical Director of the National Rehabilitation Hospital, and three international partners. The proposal was subsequently endorsed by the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, T.D., the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath, T.D., and supported by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In early 2020, the An Saol Foundation opened its Day Rehabilitation Centre in Santry, Dublin, with the support of the HSE and has been seeing clients with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI) and their families on a trial basis. The Centre will be fully operational from spring 2020 and will offer physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, robotic gait training, a social rehabilitation programme, and a family support programme.

Following the implementation of the demonstrator pilot project, the An Saol Foundation is planning to build a permanent space with community, day centre, respite and residential services.

We are tremendously proud to welcome you today, together with some of the world’s most eminent experts in the field.

For the very first time in Ireland, Prof. Joseph J. Fins, eminent author of the highly acclaimed book Rights Come to Mind – Brain Injury, Ethics and the Struggle for Consciousness will share the podium with Professor Andreas Bender (Germany), Professor Malcolm MacLachlan (Ireland) and Professor Mark Delargy (Ireland).

Today marks the beginning of the future for those with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI) and their families.

From the Organisers

An Saol Foundation

It would be wrong to spend the very limited resources of the Irish health system on those with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI) because they only have a small chance of a meaningful recovery. Our limited healthcare resources have to be prioritised for those with a good chance of recovery.

We have heard this argument many times and those with a sABI and their families are living its impact. There are no waiting lists for dedicated treatment and services for them – because, up to now, there simply were none.

The first Forum on Life and Living with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI), “Leave no one behind”, will address the question why this big gap in service provision exists and how it can be closed, hearing from national and international world-leading experts, families and practitioners.

We very much welcome the collaboration of our partners, in particular the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI), who are co-hosting Day One of the Forum.

Reinhard Schaler
CEO, An Saol Foundation


The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI)

Number Six, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 E434.

Situated beside the National Library of Ireland on Dublin’s Kildare Street, No.6 has been the home of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland since 1864.

Number Six houses an eclectic collection of artifacts and antiques reflecting the antiquity of the College. The main rooms of the building remain much as they were in 1864 when the building was opened.

The Forum’s first event will be held in the Corrigan Hall, the largest and grandest of the College’s rooms. The reception will take place in the Graves Hall which is decorated with very fine plasterwork including the monogram of Queen Victoria, the reigning monarch at the time of construction.

The Richmond

Number 1, North Brunswick Street, Dublin, D07 TH76.

The Richmond Education and Event Centre is located on a post-medieval site in the heart of Dublin City. The site was first built on by the Benedictine Nuns who opened a convent in 1688. The following hospital facilities were built and opened on the site: Hardwicke Fever Hospital (1803), The Richmond Surgical Hospital (1811), the Whitworth Medical Hospital (1817) and The Richmond Lunatic Asylum (1815). Many notable events happened in The Richmond Surgical Hospital. The first operation in Ireland using Chloroform took place here. Today, it is the Richmond Ward in Beaumont Hospital, Ireland’s main hospital for brain surgery, where most of those with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI) are being treated.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) purchased the building for its members in 2013, with the vision of creating one of Ireland’s most distinctive and welcoming education and event centres. The Richmond Education and Event Centre opened on 20th April 2018.

The Forum’s second event will be held in The Auditorium of The Richmond. The Auditorium’s tiered seating configuration has elegant Italian award-winning seating by LAMM. The space is filled with natural light, creating an inviting and cosy learning environment. 


Tuesday, 24th March, 2020
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Kildare Street, Corrigan Hall

15:00 Registration

15:20 Welcome (Reinhard Schaler, CEO, An Saol Foundation)

Leave no one behind – Life and Living with a severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI)
Co-chairs: Dr. Patricia O’Byrne, Noel MacMahon and Dr. Irwin Gill

15:30 Professor Joseph J. Fins

Rights Come to Mind: Acquired Brain Injury, Neuroscience and the Ethical Imperative to Rehabilitate

Medical practitioners are seeing an ever-growing number of patients with severe Acquired Brain Injuries (sABI), some still in a Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness (PDOC). Suddenly, they find themselves confronted with very serious and life-changing medical, ethical and legal questions for which they are often ill-prepared. Professor Fins is a world-leading authority on sABI and author of the seminal book “Rights Come to Mind –  Brain Injury, Ethics, and the Struggle for Consciousness”.

16:20 Professor Andreas Bender

Severe Disorder of Consciousness in Neurological-Neurosurgical Early Rehabilitation

Severe disorders of consciousness (DOC) due to an acute brain injury clinically manifest as either coma, unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (UWS, old terminology: vegetative state), or minimally conscious state (MCS). DOC represent a substantial proportion of patients treated in specialised early neurorehabilitation inpatient centres in Germany. Patients with DOC have several distinct needs and thus pose special challenges for the therapeutic teams in the neurorehabilitation facilities. Professor Bender will provide an insight into the management of DOC patients in the setting of inpatient neurorehabilitation. Professor Bender is Head of the Department of Neurology at a specialist centre for early neurorehabilitation in Bavaria, Germany.

16:40 Professor Malcolm MacLachlan

Leadership and Governance of Health-related Rehabilitation

The absence of an appropriate rehabilitation framework for those with a sABI is often explained by pointing to the lack of resources in a poorly financed health system. However, it has been shown that good governance may result in strengthened performance of a health system. Coherent policies are essential for good health system governance. Recent research is pointing to the best available scientific evidence on principles of good policy-related leadership and governance of health-related rehabilitation services in less resourced settings. Professor MacLachlan conducted his research to support the development of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Guidelines on health related rehabilitation.

17:00 Professor Mark Delargy

Surviving a severe Acquired Brain Injury in Ireland

Emergency trauma and medical care is now more responsive and effective, and more people are surviving catastrophic injuries with complex, life-changing neurological, vascular and orthopaedic effects.This has led to an overwhelming unmet requirement for specialist rehabilitation services particularly for people who have sustained major central nervous system injuries.This is evidenced, for instance, by the inexorable growth in numbers of people with newly acquired complex disability after neurological injury on a national specialist rehabilitation waiting list. Professor Mark Delargy is Clinical Director of the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NHR) and was a member of the Clinical Advisory Group who produced the 2017 HSE’s “Model of Care (MOC) for the provision of Specialist Rehabilitation Services in Ireland”. The MOC stated that “Many community residential options for younger severely disabled people do not meet their unique needs where continuing slow functional recovery is possible many years after their injury. Development of more structured community based rehabilitation teams is required to support patients during gradual step-down from tertiary centres and regional units so that they can be supported in reintegrating within their local communities. New funding paradigms that recognise the unique and complex long-term requirements of severely disabled survivors of catastrophic illness or injury require urgent consideration.” Following a review of active and inactive cases, the waiting list of the NRH went down in 2019. Therefore, based on the incidence of neurological disability, the current waiting lists for rehabilitation are unlikely to reflect the true neuro-rehabilitation needs in Ireland.

17:20 Q&A

18:00 Reception

Graves Hall

Wednesday, 25th March, 2020
The Richmond Centre, Smithfield, The Auditorium

09:30 Registration

10:00 Family Conversations

Patricia O’Byrne in conversation with Families affected by sABI, including –

  • Joe Grogan
  • Sandy Roper
  • Mary Walsh

11:00 Jacqueline Grogan

The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015

The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act was signed into law on the 30th December 2015 and is one of the most relevant recent pieces of legislation for health professionals treating patients affected by a serious illness or accident as well as their families. It repeals the Lunacy Act of 1871. The new Act applies to everyone and is relevant to all health and social care services. The Act is about supporting decision-making and maximising a person’s capacity to make decisions. The Act will have significant implications for health and social care providers in the provision of safe person-centred care, based on respecting the individual rights of each person. Jacqueline Grogan is Project Manager at the National Assisted Decision-Making and Consent Office of the National Quality Improvement Team, HSE.

12:00 Kay Coombes and Margaret Walker

The Arcos Approach

ARCOS was formed in London in 1991 and registered as a charity in January 1992.

ARCOS aims to help develop function or, in the case of progressive disease, maintain function for as long as possible. In both developmental conditions such as cerebral palsy and acquired disabilities, e.g. traumatic brain injury, stroke or progressive conditions, it is important to delay or prevent common secondary symptoms. These include anxiety, choking and contractures caused by lack of movement.

Too often, rehabilitation begins too late, finishes early and is too little integrated into real life. It is important that all therapeutic routines and interventions are carried out in a way that reinforces beneficial experiences of the patient. In order to be really effective, therapy must be integrated into everyday life. This means not only ensuring the most appropriate posture and movement of the individual but also carefully managing their environment.

12:45 Christiane Knorr

Therapiezentrum Burgau – No Miracles but Dedication

In 1987, the Augsburg entrepreneur Max Schuster passed an accident site. He recognises the scooter and finds his daughter seriously injured and lifeless. She is resuscitated and treated in intensive care. She survives despite severe craniocerebral injuries, but remains in a coma. Her doctors give her up. They believe her life has no meaning anyway. For them it is inconceivable that she would ever wake up, never mind return to a self-determined life.

But Max Schuster does not give up. For months he is looking for doctors and therapists who could help his daughter. And he finds them. What was still considered impossible in Germany at the end of the eighties was already practised in the USA and Switzerland: targeted rehabilitation for people with severe brain damage.

With holistic therapies and discontinuation of the sedatives, his daughter is making progress, which at the time was perceived as a miracle. Today, she takes part in life and lives largely independently in her own apartment in a supervised residential group.

Max Schuster was able to help his daughter, but he would not be an entrepreneur if he were satisfied with it. He has seen what can be done. Now he wants to help the many other people affected by severe brain injuries, whose suffering and helplessness he has experienced.

Christiane Knorr and her colleagues feel committed to the persistence of their company founder – to achieve independence and participation in life for his daughter – for each and every one of their patients.

The Burgau Therapy Centre has grown continuously from the smallest beginnings. In 1989 the supply of 20 beds started in one ward within the Burgau District Hospital – today, after extensive expansion measures, it is a regional focus centre with 111 beds and almost 500 employees.

13:30 Lunch

15:00 Panel: Life and Living with a sABI

Moderator: Cormac O’hEadhra (RTÉ)

In conversation with –

  • Professor Joseph J. Fins
  • Professor Andreas Bender
  • Kay Coombes and Margaret Walker
  • Christiane Knorr
  • Dr. Patricia O’Byrne

16:30 Reception


Tuesday, 24 March 2020
Reinhard Schaler

Reinhard Schaler was Programme Director of the MSc in Global Computing and Localisation and Director of the Localisation Research Centre at the University of Limerick. He led and participated in several European, national, and industry-funded multi-million euro research projects. He founded The Rosetta Foundation as a spin-off from UL in 2009, connecting more than 10,000 volunteer translators with hundreds of NGOs. He was awarded the 2013 META Prize by the European Network of Excellence forging the Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance at the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in Berlin, for his work with The Rosetta Foundation. Following the devastating accident of his son, he set up the An Saol Foundation in 2014 and subsequently launched the An Saol Project proposal in 2016. In 2018, he won the University of Limerick’s Award for Excellence in Service to the Community. In 2020, the An Saol Foundation opened their Day Rehabilitation Centre in Santry, Dublin.

Dr. Irwin Gill

Dr Irwin Gill is Consultant Paediatrician with special interest in Neurodisability, CHI at Temple Street. His team provides rehabilitation to children with Acquired Brain Injury.


Noel MacMahon

Noel MacMahon is a member of the Board of the An Saol Foundation. He is Barrister at Law, Senior Counsel at the Bar of Ireland and Accredited Mediator (CEDR).


Professor Joseph J. Fins

Joseph J. Fins, M.D., M.A.C.P., F.R.C.P. is The E. William Davis, Jr. M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics and Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College where he is a Tenured Professor of Medicine, Professor of Medical Ethics in Neurology, Professor of Medical Ethics in Rehabilitation Medicine, Professor of Health Care Policy and Research, and Professor of Medicine in Psychiatry. He is the founding Chair of the Ethics Committee of New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medicine. A member of the Adjunct Faculty of Rockefeller University and Senior Attending Physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital, he co-directs, the Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury (CASBI). At Yale Law School, he is the Solomon Center Distinguished Scholar in Medicine, Bioethics and the Law. The author of over 400 publications, he is a co-author of the 2007 landmark Nature paper describing neuromodulation in the minimally conscious state. His most recent book is Rights Come to Mind: Brain Injury, Ethics, and The Struggle for Consciousness (Cambridge University Press). A past president of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities, Dr. Fins is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Hastings Center and the International Neuroethics Society and a past Governor of the American College of Physicians, where he is a Master of the College. Dr. Fins is an elected Member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal College of Physicians (London). By royal decree he was named an Academico de Honor (Honored Academic) of the Spanish National Royal Academy of Medicine. He was appointed by President Clinton to The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and serves on The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law by gubernatorial appointment. Dr. Fins was  graduated from Cornell University Medical College and Wesleyan University which honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award and where he serves as a Trustee Emeritus. 

Professor Andreas Bender

Professor Bender heads a neurorehabilitation hospital in Bavaria/Germany and is Research Associate at the University of Munich/Germany, Grosshadern Campus. His research is focused on rehabilitation outcome and especially on coma prognosis and outcome. He is a Principal Investigator (PI) of two multicentre observational outcome studies employing high-density (HD) electroencephalograms (EEG) with 256 electrodes to predict coma recovery and to distinguish vegetative state (VS) from minimally conscious state (MCS). Professor Bender is Medical and Scientific Advisor to the An Saol Foundation and a member of its Executive Council.

Professor Malcolm MacLachlan

Malcolm “Mac” MacLachlan is Professor of Psychology and Social Inclusion at Maynooth University, Ireland. His interests are in Social Inclusion, Disability, Assistive Technology, and Policy, Systems & Organisation Design. He also works in the areas of International Development, Humanitarian Work Psychology and Maritime Psychology. 

He is the Director of the Assisting Living & Learning (ALL) Institute, a cross-disciplinary initiative with over 50 academics and researchers, established in 2017, at Maynooth University.

He is a clinical psychologist, Fellow of the Psychological Society of Ireland and of the British Psychological Society, and Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is the Research and Innovation Lead for the World Health Organisation’s Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) programme and the Knowledge Management Lead for the United Nations Partnership for the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNPRPD). He has worked extensively with civil society organisations and especially Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs). He is a recipient of the American Psychological Association’s International Humanitarian Award, the British Psychological Society’s Award for Promoting Equality of Opportunity, and the Royal Irish Academy’s Gold Medal for Social Science. Prof MacLachlan is Extraordinary Professor of Rehabilitation at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Professor Mark Delargy

Professor Mark Delargy is Clinical Director of the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH), Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine at Beaumont Hospital Dublin, and was a member of the Clinical Advisory Group who published the HSE’s “Model of Care (MOC) for the provision of Specialist Rehabilitation Services in Ireland”. Mark Delargy currently leads the 56 bed Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service programme at the National Rehabilitation Hospital as Clinical Director. Mark’s current research in Rehabilitation Medicine includes Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness service development, Preventing MultiDrug Resistant Organism (MDRO) transmission in Rehabilitation Units, and Developing a Neurobehavioural Clinic service for Challenging Behaviour after Acquired Brain Injury with the UEMS PRM work on classification. He is Ireland’s foremost authority on Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Dr. Patricia O’Byrne

Dr. Patricia O’Byrne is the mother of Pádraig who suffered a severe Acquired Brain Injury in 2013 when he was hit by a 4.3 ton truck when he was cycling to work one morning on Cape Cod where he had planned to spend his summer having finished his studies in History and Irish in Trinity College Dublin (TCD).  She now is a full-time carer for her son who continues to make a slow, but steady recovery from his injuries.

Mary Walsh

Mary Walsh is the mother of Sara who suffered a brain injury in October 2011 when she was 28 years old and while being treated in Beaumont Hospital. She was subsequently treated in the National Rehabilitation Hospital and the Royal Hospital Donnybrook. In February 2015, Sara and her parents went to Germany for six weeks of intensive treatment in a specialised clinic. Sadly, Sara passed away on 17 June 2015, following a short stay in St Francis Hospice, Blanchardstown.

Sandy Roper

Sandy Roper is the sister of Niall McGrath who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in 1989, and has been looking out for Niall ever since, together with their mother Mary.  

Niall, now 52 years old, has been living in St Joseph’s nursing home in Longford since he was 21. He was working in a bar in London in 1989 when he fell down a flight of stairs (?) and was left with a severe brain injury. 

No one expected him to live very long after he was brought back to Ireland, so it is only in the past few years that his family began to question the appropriateness of him being placed in a nursing home for the past 31 years. Since 2010 they have been pushing to get more suitable help. They were told there is no brain injury unit in the midlands but got him into the NRH for two months of rehabilitation, secured a mobility allowance and a personal assistant for ten hours per week. Niall now also attends a daycare centre for people with Physical and Sensory Disabilities twice a week for 3 hour each day.

The extra help has resulted in a big improvement in Niall, making his sister Sandy Roper wonder if things could have been different if he had received rehabilitation earlier.

“There is a big change in him. If he had the proper care and was in a facility for people with brain injury, I think he would come on leaps and bounds,” she says. “The nursing home is for older people and dementia patients and he is the youngest person there. It is not the place for Niall.”

Joe Grogan

Joe Grogan is the father of Shane who suffered a devastating brain injury during an unprovoked attack on August 5th, 2012, when he, then 22, was hit on the head with a brick as he walked his girlfriend home. Shane is currently living in a Nursing Home in Tuam, Co. Galway, not far away from his family home. However, his family is planning a new accessible family home to allow them to bring Shane home. His father said: ‘We’re on our own, that’s the problem. They’re the forgotten people as far as I’m concerned. A mother whose son was injured a couple of years ago got in touch with me through Facebook. It’s very frustrating because there’s no help there, or any help is dotted around the place. There’s no joined-up thinking. There’s no plan.’

Jacqueline Grogan

Jacqueline Groagan is Project Manager in the National Assisted Decision-Making and Consent Office, National Quality Improvement Team, Health Service Executive (HSE).


Kay Coombes

Mrs. Kay Coombes MRCSLT (Hons). Director of ARCOS, Malvern, U.K.

Kay Coombes is a Speech & Language Therapist specialising in neurology, a Bobath Tutor and Director of ARCOS (Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral Skills), a UK national charity. 

Kay Coombes is a Clinical Specialist, a contributor to various publications and to professional conferences.  She lectures nationally and internationally on neurological speech and language therapy and leads multi-disciplinary workshops for doctors, therapists, nurses, care staff and carers.  Much of her work focuses on rehabilitation of people with severely impaired communication and swallowing. The approach developed by Kay Coombes and her colleagues for the treatment of patients who have sensori-motor impairment caused by developmental or acquired brain injury has become known as Facial Oral Tract Therapy (F.O.T.T.). 

Margaret Walker

Ms. Margaret Walker, Neuro Occupational Therapist. ARCOS, Malvern, U.K.

Margaret Walker is an Occupational Therapist specialising in neurology. She is an advanced Bobath practitioner and Facial Oral Tract Therapy Instructor. She works for ARCOS (Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral Skills), a UK national charity.

Margaret leads specialist and multi-disciplinary training courses/workshops for doctors, therapists, nurses, care staff and carers.  Much of this work focuses on rehabilitation of people with severe sensori-motor impairment including communication and swallowing. The approach used is based on the holistic approach known as Facial Oral Tract Therapy (F.O.T.T). She contributes to conferences and symposia on rehabilitation, brain injury and F.O.T.T.

Christiane Knorr

Christiane Knorr is an Occupational Therapist with many years of experience working with neurological patients, especially those with brain injuries. She is Deputy Therapy Lead in Therapiezentrum Burgau, Bobath Supervisor, and specialises in device-assisted therapy. During the course of her work, she has treated several Irish patients with severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI) who attended the Burgau therapy centre.

The Panel
Cormac ÓhEadhra

Cormac Ó’hEadhra is an award-winning Radio Broadcaster with RTÉ. He currently presents Saturday with Cormac O’hEadhra on RTÉ Radio One. 

​Hailing from Connemara in the west of Ireland and raised bilingually, he presents an award-winning show on RTÉ Radió na Gaeltachta called Cormac ag a Cúig. The show is a drivetime current affairs and sports programme focusing on national and international news, with weekly business slots, entertainment updates and panel discussions, all through Irish. In addition to his show on RTÉ Radió na Gaeltachta, Cormac has presented Drivetime, Today, This Week and The Late Debate. He also sat in the hot seat on the Sean O’Rourke Show.

In March 2014, the RTÉ Radio One programme “The Late Debate”, then moderated by Cormac Ó’hEadhra, dedicated a full hour to Pádraig’s accident on Cape Cod and the need for him to leave the country to access timely early neurorehabilitation abroad. In June 2016, Cormac Ó’hEadhra moderated a panel discussion during the launch of the An Saol Project Proposal Launch.

  • Professor Joseph J. Fins
  • Professor Andreas Bender
  • Kay Coombes and Margaret Walker
  • Christiane Knorr
  • Dr. Patricia O’Byrne


Severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI)

A brain injury that involves a long period of unconsciousness (coma) and a prolonged disorder of conscience (PDOC). Persons with an sABI are very highly dependent, are often non- or minimally-verbal, and require, in most cases, life-long support with basic activities of daily living (ADL) as well as life-long rehabilitation.

The An Saol Foundation CLG

The An Saol Foundation was established in 2014 to provide adequate support to those with severe Acquired Brain Injury (sABI). It is a registered charity and a company limited by Guarantee. The Company operates from its headquarters in Dublin and delivers its services in Dublin and beyond. The services are primarily designed to help survivors of sABI who no longer have acute medical needs, as well as to provide support and information for their families and friends. To achieve its goals, the Foundation promotes awareness about sABI and neurological rehabilitation, supports research, delivers neurological rehabilitation services, raises funds, and engages in other, related support activities.

Having met with a number of affected families in September 2016, the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, T.D., announces funding for An Saol’s proposed demonstration pilot project at the National Carers’ Conference in Croke Park, Dublin, in January 2017.

In January 2020, the An Saol Foundation opened their Day Rehabilitation Centre in Santry as a three-year demonstration pilot project supported by the Health Service Executive (HSE). It aims to connect recent scientific research with the practice of neuro-rehabilitation. It offers targeted individual therapies, including OT, Physio, and SLT, as well as social rehabilitation activities to those with a sABI as well as their families and circle of support.

Following the implementation of the pilot project, the An Saol Foundation is planning the construction of a permanent life and living space for those with a sABI, covering community outreach, day rehabilitation, respite and residential care.

7 Airvista Office Park,
Santry, Dublin 9,
D09 YX84.
Tel. +353 (1) 862 2716‬