Staff at one of only a handful specialist brain injury units in the UK - helping patients learn to walk and talk again after strokes and serious road accidents - are celebrating it's 25th anniversary.
The 24-bed Regional Hyper-acute Rehabilitation Unit (RHRU), at Northwick Park Hospital , has helped more than 2,000 patients since it opened its doors in 1993.
Specialist staff help patients step-by-step in their recovery from the most severe brain injuries and other significant acquired neurological conditions.
One such patient was Ben Spires - who collapsed at the family home in Harlow, Essex, and suffered a stroke - aged just 18.
Ben said: “I felt like someone flicked a switch in my head.
"One second I was fine, the next it was like someone had driven a nail through my head. Everything was a blur after that.”
Ben’s parents managed to get him downstairs where he was rushed to the specialist stroke unit at Queen’s Hospital, Romford.
His mother Kelly says the emergency services decision to bypass their local hospital in favour of Queen’s probably saved her son’s life, before undergoing four life-saving procedures and then being transferred to Northwick Park.
Ben, who hopes to go on to complete a degree in maths and economics, added: "It was frustrating but I learnt to take it a step at a time. I moved from a wheelchair to a walking frame within a few weeks and they had me going down to the shop and buying stuff as part of my therapy."
Staff said Ben’s positive attitude aided his recovery and he was later allowed home at weekends.
"It was a great incentive to get better. The team were always there for me and my Psychologist really helped me come to terms with what had happened and focus on where I wanted to be moving forward.”
This year, one of Northwick Park Hospital’s most respected units it celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Emily Steward, who is a specialist speech and language therapist at the unit said: "The RHRU is unlike any place I have ever worked. It's full of really special people dedicated to getting the best outcomes for their patients.
"When someone has a complex brain injury it affects every aspect of their life so the team address both their physical and emotional health.
"It's important to see patients as people and not define them by their condition."
The 24 bed unit has helped more than 2,000 patients since it opened its doors in 1993 and is recognised as centre of excellence with RHRU staff travelling as far afield as Australia and the United Arab Emirates to share their skills.
Its two longest serving members of staff are Professor Lynne Turner-Stokes and Head of Therapies Hilary Rose who have been with the unit since it opened.
Hilary said: "The unit has grown in size and takes patients with more complex needs. Our job is to help those with significant impairments to recover as much as possible, to maximise their abilities and improve their quality of life."
"We take people with a wide range of neurological conditions from stroke patients to people involved in serious road accidents helping them regain basic skills that we all take for granted like speech, movement and the ability to swallow and eat."
Keep up to date with the latest news in west London via the free getwestlondon app.
You can even set it to receive push notifications for all the breaking news in your area