For Health Professionals

Referring to State Head Injury Unit (SHIU)

  • SHIU referral form (Word)
  • Referrals to the SHIU are accepted from health professionals, family or self-referral
  • Patients are aged between 16 and 65 years old and must be living in Western Australia
  • Radiological evidence of acquired brain injury (ABI) is required via CT, MRI, or Specialist review. In the case of concussion – confirmed diagnosis via presentation to an Emergency Department or GP
  • Non-degenerative ABI diagnoses are accepted including but not limited to: traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke, tumour, hypoxia, infection, encephalopathy and severe concussion.
    • Please note that if your patient has been diagnosed with a tumour, please contact our Triage Officer to discuss your referral.
  • Priority for service is determined at triage and is based on current services involved, severity of injury and individual circumstances
  • Patients demonstrating active, recent or significant drug and / or alcohol use will be required to engage with a program of support with a suitable drug and alcohol service prior to engaging with SHIU rehabilitation program.
  • People with degenerative and neurological conditions; or those associated with protracted alcohol and / or drug use are not eligible for services.
  • Patients who are in receipt of compensation or have funding available to access private services, e.g. Workers Compensation, Insurance Commission of WA (ICWA) or NDIS, who require ABI specific assessment / consult / rehabilitation, please contact the SHIU Triage Officer to discuss your referral.

Rehabilitation Services

Case Coordination

All SHIU Case Coordinators (CC) are Allied Health professionals with extensive experience in rehabilitation. A comprehensive case coordination approach provides proactive, appropriate, flexible and coordinated support with patients and their families / support networks. This is achieved by assessing, facilitating, planning and, advocating for health needs, with regular monitoring and program review, on an individual basis. The CC works closely with the person with an ABI and their family / support network to identify needs and goals. A rehabilitation plan is then developed and implemented. Regular contact enables the plan to be altered as needs change over time.


Occupational Therapy

SHIU Occupational Therapy rehabilitation programs are tailored to patient goals and may include:

  • Functional cognitive rehabilitation (i.e. home, community or work-based)
  • Functional rehabilitation of self-care (task analysis; provision of aids and equipment)
  • Fatigue and sleep management
  • Functional rehabilitation of home management tasks (e.g. domestic tasks; financial management; organisational skills)
  • Upper limb rehabilitation
  • Assistance with returning to work and other meaningful activities following ABI.



SHIU Physiotherapy undertakes neuro-physical assessment to establish an individual’s physical abilities (including: mobility; balance; vertigo/dizziness; fatigue; falls; exercise tolerance) post-ABI. Individualised rehabilitation programs are designed to address specific patient goals and are carried out in the person’s home, community or outpatient setting.

Scope of SHIU Physiotherapy intervention:

  • Neuro-physical rehabilitation
  • Mobility and gait rehabilitation along the spectrum (including transfer training, hydrotherapy, return to sports, running etc.)
  • Provision of home exercise programs in the home and community
  • Vestibular treatment
  • Post-concussion assessment and management
  • Linkage with community/outpatient programs


Clinical Psychology

SHIU Clinical Psychology focusses on:

  • Support during adjustment to ABI and changing health, including patient and family / support
  • Education to families and other people who are central to the lives of our patients
  • Assessment of mental illness and psychological difficulties
  • Provision of ABI specific interventions for ABI related mental illness and psychological problems
  • Referral to appropriate psychology services in the community for non ABI-specific interventions
  • Assessment and behavioural management of challenging behaviours following ABI  


Social Work

The SHIU Social Worker’s aim is to provide support for immediate and long term psychosocial issues for patients post-ABI, to ensure, as best as practicable, patient safety within the community. The SHIU SW role is broad, with support provided across a number of areas relevant to recovery post-ABI:

  • Centrelink support and advocacy
  • Applications for Administration and Guardianship
  • Referrals to appropriate agencies and support services, including NDIS
  • Emotional support
  • Carers education, support and referral
  • Assistance with financial matters and linking with financial counselling services
  • Legal matters – whilst SHIU SW do not have a legal background, they are able to assist with referrals to community legal centres; and applications for criminal compensation, should the patient be eligible.


Speech Pathology

SHIU Speech Pathology assesses the patient’s communication ability – speaking, understanding, reading, writing and non-verbal skills – and devises rehabilitation programs appropriate to patient needs. The rehabilitation focus for patients is on functional recovery and community re-integration. Patients are assisted to maximise their residual skills and to learn strategies to communicate more effectively.

SHIU Speech Pathology can also assist patients who may experience swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) following their ABI by assessing and developing treatment plans with the patient and their family / carers.


Allied Health Assistant

Allied Health Assistants (AHA’s) are an integral part of a client’s journey through their time at the State Head Injury Unit. AHA’s enable therapy to be implemented on a regular basis as well as being an important link between the client and the treating Allied Health therapist.

AHA’s assist all therapists to implement rehabilitation programs to enhance client skills and engagement. They work with the client in the home, community or clinic setting pending on the clients’ needs.

Allied Health Assistant work with clients to:

  • Not only setting goals but working closely with the client and family/carer to achieve those goals.
  • Increase confidence and independence
  • Implement exercise programs (Home, Community or Gym) to:
    • Improve exercise tolerance
    • Improve strength, balance and mobility
  • Assist with client accountability and engagement in rehabilitation
  • Implement of home programs to improve activities of daily living in all aspects
    • Meal preparation
    • Self-care etc.
  • Transport training, which also assists with:
    • Use of assistive technology and applications (e.g. iPad and Android)
    • Utilising various transport means i.e.: bus, train, taxi and Uber
  • Volunteer work
  • Group/community activities and socialisation
    • Men’s and Women’s Groups
    • Adaptive recreation activities such as: mountain biking; fishing; sailing; paddle boarding; golf etc.

Group Programs

Understanding Acquired Brain Injury

The SHIU offers a 2 hour group education session on a monthly basis to assist patients and their families to improve their knowledge and understanding of acquired brain injury (ABI).

Some of the topics covered in the session include:

  • Information about causes of an ABI
  • Introduction to brain function
  • The effects of injury and the phases of recovery
  • Strategies to deal with some of the common difficulties experienced

Attendance at the seminar is highly recommended as part of a patient’s SHIU rehabilitation program and to assist families with supporting their loved one following ABI, with patients generally invited at point of referral to the service. The program is also available via pre-recorded link for regional clients or if patients are unable to attend in person.


Living Well with Acquired Brain Injury

The Living Well with Acquired Brain Injury (LWWABI) Group is a weekly group suitable for people with ABI and their family members / carers who are already participating in a SHIU rehabilitation program. It is designed to assist people to live well in the initial stages of community re-integration. The group runs for 8 weeks and patients are deemed suitable for group participation following assessment by the group facilitator.

Session topics include:

  • Adjustment to changes
  • Organisation and memory prompts
  • Coping with stress, fear and anxiety
  • Working with symptoms – pain management
  • Time management – routine and structure
  • Sleeping well – fatigue and pacing, graduating activity
  • Communicating well
  • Work Stress


Support Worker and Carer Training Day

The SHIU Support Worker and Carer Training Day is an education opportunity for people from care support agencies working with patients with ABI, to gain further guidance, practical strategies and recommendations regarding working with this patient population. The SHIU team is involved in hosting and presenting the event on a biannual basis.

Topics covered include:

  • Understanding the Brain and ABI
  • The Significance of Support Workers and Creating Therapeutic Relationships in Your Rehabilitation Role
  • Understanding Behaviours
  • Towards Independence: Improving Activity Participation
  • Facilitating Mobility and Physical Activity post-ABI
  • Supporting Swallowing and Communication in ABI
  • The Role of the Allied Health Assistant in Community Rehabilitation
  • Interactive workshop

This is a well-subscribed and sought after educational event. All support workers and carers who attend are provided with a comprehensive education booklet comprising presentation slides and information regarding SHIU, ABI and long term recovery.

Educational Programs and Resources

Whilst the SHIU already hold educational group programs, we understand that your organisation may wish to engage SHIU services for ABI education and training. Please complete our Education by the State Head Injury Unit form (PDF) to register your query regarding this service provision and a staff member will be in touch to discuss your request.


Online resources regarding ABI, recovery and community supports

Synapse (external site)

Stroke Foundation (external site)

Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) (external site)

Concussions Ontario (external site)

Last Updated: 27/10/2021