Media Students Put Their Minds to Project That Will Bring Relief to Patients About to Undergo Neuro-Rehabilitation

SECOND year level 3 students on the extended diploma in creative media course at Darlington College will be editing footage shot by their lecturers that explains the work of Ward 26 at The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.

The 18-bed specialist ward looks after patients who need to stay in hospital after having treatment or a procedure on the neurosurgery, neurology or trauma wards, or who are referred for specialist rehabilitation.

Medical and nursing staff care for both men and women, aged 18 years and over, living in the Tees Valley, County Durham and North Yorkshire. The facility also offers physiotherapy, occupational therapy, advice on diet, speech and language therapy and neuropsychology.

Conditions treated include multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, Guillain Barre Syndrome, chronic demyelinating polyneuropathy, major trauma, acquired brain injury, cerebral palsy and neuro-immunological disease.

The videos will sit on the hospital website and allow patients to understand their likely treatment, which could seem daunting, in order to put them at ease before their care begins.

Darlington College lecturer Steve Wade said the project was the perfect opportunity to help patients, staff and the students themselves.

“I had no idea what to expect on the ward and I can see how patients might be anxious about going into hospital,” he said. “When the work was explained to me I could see there was nothing to worry about and how the rehabilitation would help them.

“Ward 26 staff often help patients rebuild their lives, including learning how to walk and talk again, or how to complete simple tasks like making a cup of tea. The ward’s work is truly fascinating and our videos will show patients there is nothing to worry about.”

He said it was harder for students to edit someone else’s footage than their own so the project would be fantastic experience working for a genuine client.

Ward 26 speech and language therapist Poppy Larkin said: “The videos will really benefit a lot of patients and their families before they come onto the ward.

“They’ll be able to see and hear staff and look at our facilities, including the new garden area we developed during the pandemic, which the patients help maintain.

“We are currently trying to raise £5,000 for bi-fold doors on the ward to improve patient access to the benefits of being outdoors.”

Ward manager Paula Wilson added: “It’s about showing what we can achieve as a team and sharing this with patients and families so they are not fearful of the unknown.”

For former sales representative Pete Coady, the ward was pivotal in rebuilding his life after a car crash left him in a coma.

Four years ago the 41-year-old, of Darlington, had a fit while at the wheel of his car as he drove near Keld in Swaledale. The vehicle flew over a wall and rolled four times coming to rest close to a river.

While his nephew escaped the wreckage free from serious injury, Pete sustained head injuries which still prevent him working and see him spending his medical retirement running the charity Say Aphasia Darlington.

“Staff on Ward 26 are great at what they do,” he said. “I could have gone to hospital in Newcastle but opted to stay on Ward 26 because of them.

“I now have aphasia, which affects my speech, which is improving, and I run the charity to help others because I want to give something back.”

For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit

Ward 26 Just Giving 

Pete Coady posing with positive mental attitude sign.
Crash victim Pete Coady, of Darlington, who now spends his medical retirement running a charity for people with the brain condition aphasia.


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