A Q&A with Dr Neil Langridge, AECC University College’s Director of Clinical & Rehabilitation Services

We sit down with Dr Neil Langridge, AECC University College's Director of Clinical & Rehabilitation Services, to discuss the new Integrated Rehabilitation Centre (IRC) and what it will mean for students, patients and the community in Bournemouth.

Can you tell us about the new facilities and what AECC University College will have that it didn’t before?

"The new Integrated Rehabilitation Centre is a really exciting project. The new build will have nine clinic rooms, with a very large open space which will have a range of equipment allowing everything from older persons rehabilitation to high-level elite sports performance rehabilitation. There'll also be a space for classes, activities, and rehabilitation in its broadest sense. So, it's not just about exercise, although exercise will have a big part to play. It's very much about health and wellbeing, and activities that will support mental health as well as physical health and wellbeing.

"We will have a range of health testing equipment that will help identify where there might be gaps in a patient’s health and fitness levels such as simple health testing, looking at oxygen levels, or their VO2 to max their ability to exercise with good oxygenation within the body, for example.

"The vision for the exercise centre is that it will be open for anyone, providing accessible, supportive exercise and rehabilitation spaces for everybody - from elite sports people to somebody who's recovering from an illness – be that an operation or injury – and they can all be given direction and support in a safe space. For some people, it might be getting back to walking after an injury and getting back to daily function. Sometimes when people talk about rehabilitation, they think of sports rehab and elite athletes and we do support that, but with our model and our facilities we can help anyone to recover.

"We are also looking to make the outside space of the new IRC therapeutic - the plan is to provide a garden and open space for therapeutic activities, which has been shown to support mental health and wellbeing as well as emotional health and wellbeing. We will also potentially be inviting voluntary organisations to use it or build community-based activities."

So, it's going to be a real community space?

"That's certainly the aim. It is about providing a community health and wellbeing resource to support where there are gaps in the service locally and nationally. We will have an exercise centre that we will be encouraging the general public to use, and we will have sports rehabilitators to support them with their recovery or rehabilitation, or their exercise needs."

What are the myths that you would like to bust around AECC University College and the student healthcare provision?

"I’d like people to know it’s about rehabilitation and recovery, that students are well supported, and we can offer a 90-minute consultation time to patients under very supportive, expert guidance. We want to work in partnerships with the community and we want to offer safe spaces for recovery from a range of conditions. We want to develop and be supportive to the needs of the community, especially as the needs of the community emerge at the end of the lockdowns and as we move towards the future after the Pandemic."

Dr Neil Langridge

[Photo: Dr Neil Langridge]