May 17, 2021
17-23 May 2021 is Action for Brain Injury Week – a week focused on increasing awareness and understanding of what brain injury is and how it affects people.
There are many types of brain injury including traumatic brain injury following an accident; stroke; brain haemorrhage and tumour. They are all varied and affect people in different ways. The symptoms of a brain injury can range from mild deficits affecting memory and concentration to severe cognitive impairments which can affect every part of an individual's life.
The one common thread that runs through all the lives of brain injury survivors and their families is how desperately lonely it can be. Brain injury can often be an 'invisible' injury – there may be no outward sign of injury and to people on the outside looking in individuals may appear to be fine.
People 'on the outside' may find it difficult to understand how a brain injury can affect someone and how long lasting the symptoms of brain injury can be.
The symptoms of brain injury can include debilitating fatigue, increased irritability, aversion to noise and a change in personality and behavior. Someone who may have been easygoing and sociable prior to their brain injury may become aggressive, unpredictable and withdrawn. They may be very blunt and lack empathy. They may unintentionally hurt people’s feelings ad push them away at a time in their lives when they most need support, love and friendship.
It can be difficult for brain injury survivors to reach out to others and to try and explain how they have been affected and why they find some situations so difficult. It is sometimes easier to turn away and go inwards than to have to try and make others understand.
The family and friends of brain injury survivors have to push through this and reach out, but this can be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting for what can seem like little reward.
This loss of connection over time can be incredibly difficult and can lead to increasing isolation and loneliness. The longer the situation continues the harder it can become to break out of. The theme of Action for Brain injury week this year is 'A Life in Lockdown', focusing on the isolation that can result from a brain injury. As COVID-19 restrictions are eased many people cannot wait to get out and see family and friends after such a long period of lockdown and limits on social contact. The point being made through Action for Brain Injury Week is that this feeling of isolation and loneliness is quite often a common part of life for brain injury survivors and their families.
Life after brain injury can be a bewildering and frightening prospect but those affected are not alone. Brain injury charities such as Headway and the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust provide vital support and help to those affected by brain injury. Headway provide practical support and advice on a national and local level; putting people in touch with others in their area who are living through and facing the same challenges. They also offer a helpline for people who need advice and support. Sometimes just having someone to listen without judgment or even without having all the answers can make things easier. You can contact the Headway helpline on 0808 800 2244.
With such pressure on NHS services; access to the support provided by these charities is needed now more than ever. So many fund-raising activities have been curtailed over the last year and charity shops have been forced to close; limiting the income and funds these charities rely on. It is vital that these charities receive support now to allow them to continue their work; providing access to rehabilitation and a lifeline to those affected by brain injury.
Action for Brain Injury Week draws to a close with Hats for Headway on Friday 21 May – an annual event which encourages everyone to be as creative or as daft as they can be and to wear their hats with pride. Those taking part can take photos of their creations and share them via #HatsforHeadway and can text HFHW to 70085 to donate £2 to support their work.
The Serious Injury Team at Spencers Solicitors have a wealth of experience of dealing with traumatic brain injury cases and can offer advice and support to those affected by traumatic brain injuries.
About the author
Mary is a Solicitor within our Serious Injury Team.
Mary joined the business in 1997 after graduating from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with a degree in English Literature. Mary subsequently successfully completed a Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Practice Course whilst working full time. Mary qualified as a Solicitor in 2007 and has worked within the Serious Injury Team for over ten years dealing with high value, complex injury claims. Mary has extensive experience dealing with a wide variety of claims including catastrophic injury claims, accidents involving fatalities and cases involving serious orthopaedic and psychological injuries.
Mary can be contacted on 01246 266668.