School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

News

30 Jan 2020

Make your steps count for this year’s BrainWalk

Walking is one of the easiest ways to get more active and from 31st January you can put your steps to even better use by taking part in the BrainWalk, run by the Encephalitis Society.

The BrainWalk begins on 31st January and runs up to World Encephalitis Day on 22nd February. It aims to raise awareness of and understanding about encephalitis.

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. It is caused either by an infection invading the brain or through the immune system attacking the brain in error. Anyone at any age can get encephalitis. There are up to 6,000 cases in the UK each year and potentially hundreds of thousands worldwide.

Adѐle MacKinlay, the University’s Director of HR and Organisational Development, has very personal experience of the impact that encephalitis can have.

“In November 1998 my world changed. My smart, beautiful, young and vibrant mum became ill with herpes simplex encephalitis. Of course, we didn’t know that at the time; neither did the medical profession. By the time the right people worked out what was going on with her, it was too late. She emerged from hospital one year on a changed person. She didn’t know who she was, who her family and friends were, and her memory lasted for approximately 20 seconds. Imagine ‘living’ like that. My father became her 24/7 carer. The family had lost their heart and she had lost her life.”

To help us raise awareness of encephalitis, we’re looking for as many staff, students, friends and families to join together as Team Lboro to take part in the BrainWalk.

You’ll need to download the BrainWalk app from Google Play or the Apple App store. Register your details and sync with your FitBit or your phone’s health data using the drop down menu in the app. Select to join an existing team, enter Team Lboro into the search and then when promoted enter the password Lboro2020. Then all you need to do is get walking.

To help you on your way, the Sustainability team will be leading a campus walk on 4th February. It will start at the Pilkington Library at 12.30pm, ending back at the Library just under an hour later. Wear comfortable shoes that are warm and can withstand any slightly muddy conditions you might encounter on campus.

Jan Short, who works in the Marketing and Advancement team, is supporting the initiative as, like Adѐle, she has a very personal experience.

“In September 2011, just before my daughter was starting her second year at university, I got a call from her – “My boyfriend is trying to kill me", she said. This was our introduction to NMDA Autoimmune Encephalitis.
“Lauren came home and was deteriorating rapidly into violent psychosis. She tested drugs clean so the hospitals had no idea what the cause might be. “She was sectioned to a mental institute and scheduled for electric shock therapy. Then she was transferred to A&E with double pneumonia and given just three hours to live. She survived – and tests showed she had encephalitis.
“After many months on life support we were given back a 19 year old infant mentally and emotionally, who had to learn to read, write, walk and talk again from scratch. Lauren worked very hard and with chemotherapy and epilepsy medication, four years later she returned to university, gained a 1st and is currently doing her Masters.
“Lauren does have life-changing fatigue and being immune compromised normal colds could result in her being admitted to hospital. But we know just how fortunate we are; she’s in the top two percent of survivors – a third of people die and most survivors have limited short term memory.”

Adѐle adds: “Encephalitis doesn’t discriminate; it could be any one of us tomorrow, which is why the Encephalitis Society and World Encephalitis Day are so important. Raising awareness of encephalitis saves lives and improves the quality of life of those who survive. Please join me in knowing what encephalitis is.”

Find out about more about encephalitis, the BrainWalk and other ways in which you can help on the Encephalitis Society website.