Dr Fergus Gracey CLAHRC Fellow 2011

fergusFergus is a Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist who works with both adults and children following acquired brain injury.  He has worked at the Oliver Zangwill Centre for Neuropsychological Rehabilitation for 10 years and has specialised in understanding and rehabilitating self-regulation, emotional adjustment and social-emotional processing problems.  Fergus has published book chapters and papers in peer reviewed journals on topics relating to his interests in social and emotional aspects of brain injury, especially relating to cognitive behaviour therapy, identity and adjustment.

His research is currently supported by successful grant applications and he works part time as a practitioner researcher within the CLAHRC CP where he is involved in research relating to service improvement and service design for adults and children with brain injury.

Project title: Mental Health Problems of Children with Acquired Brain Injury.


Childhood brain injury is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK. A range of poor psychosocial consequences are likely. ‘Hidden disabilities’ (cognitive and emotional problems), and family adjustment issues may get missed by services and commissioners. This project set out to improve understanding of the presenting needs of children with ABI and to explore service design issues via a new service for children with acquired brain injury serving the East of England region (Cambridge Centre for Paediatric Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, CCPNR). The research question – What are the presenting cognitive, emotional, behavioural and social problems of these children compared with matched non-ABI Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referrals?


Referral information and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (Goodman, 2001) data was collected and analysed for 27 accepted and assessed referrals to CCPNR and compared against SDQ data of a matched group of non-brain injured children referred to and assessed by CPFT Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS).


Children with ABI referred to CCPNR had problems in multiple domains of functioning, and were likely to have pre-injury developmental or psychosocial difficulties. On the parent-rated SDQ they had very similar presenting needs to those assessed by CAMHS.


The results echo previous findings regarding the needs of children with ABI, their similarity in presentation to children referred to CAMHS, their complexity and heterogeneity of need.


The work has raised awareness of the needs of children with ABI in the Trust. Screening for presence of brain injury as a diagnostic category has been added to the CPFT version of the CAMHS Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) referral checklist. A brief ABI screening tool is now being used by the Youth Offending Team in Cambridgeshire.

Download a briefing document on Fergus’ research project.