BBC reveals the reality of living with a brain injury
You could sustain a brain injury in any number of circumstances; you may be involved in a major car accident, you could suffer personal injury when playing a contact sport or you could sustain a serious head injury in a violent attack. In all of these instances there may be a chance that you could make a personal injury compensation claim against the person who caused your traumatic injury.
While gaining damages can make your life more comfortable when suffering from a brain injury, it can never make up for the time it takes for you to recover, the strain it puts on friends and family and the quality of life that you are missing out on.
Brain injury publicised Some knowledge of the causes and effects of brain injury have been in the public eye since daredevil journalist Richard Hammond was involved in a near fatal accident while allegedly attempting to break the land speed record for an episode of Top Gear.
The car accident occurred when the jet-powered dragster had a tyre blow out and it went hurtling towards the grass at Elvington airfield close to York. After rolling over and over the car finally came to a halt upside down. The vehicle was left dug into the grass, along with Hammond's helmet and his head still inside.
After being airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary he was later transferred to Bristol hospital where he went on to make a full recovery. However, it seems that Hammond was one of the lucky few that had a very speedy recovery without lasting disabilities and health complications.
Doctors say that brain injury patients usually recover at a far slower pace and this has given many a rather distorted view of how long and hard the road to recovery actually is.
The harsh reality
The reality of coping with a brain injury was revealed in a hard-hitting one-off BBC 1 drama aired on 25th February 2007. Recovery, starring Doctor Who Star David Tennant and Sarah Parish of Cutting It fame, focussed explicitly on how brain injury can affect someone and their close relationship with their partner.
Alan Hamilton, played by Tennant, and his wife Tricia (Parish) are happily married with two children and their life is torn apart when Alan is hit by a car after going out for a few drinks with his friend after work. The road accident leaves him in a deep coma and when he wakes the extent of his brain injury becomes apparent.
His behaviour and personality have completely altered, he has lost his inhibitions and he varies from angry and frustrated to vulnerable and childlike. Simple everyday tasks like getting dressed become a chore and he is left unable to do the job he loves as head of a building firm.
This change obviously puts Alan's relationship with Tricia under an incredible strain. She becomes his full-time carer, the bread winner, mum and dad and longs for the man that she married to return.
The drama also shows how financially challenging coping with a brain injury can be. This is really brought home when Tricia is told that her husband will not be receiving any personal injury compensation and she is forced to make difficult decisions about selling the family home and whether or not they can afford to send their eldest son to university.
Recovery was written by British playwright and TV drama phenomenon Tony Marchant and was based very much on real life.
He was inspired to embark on the project after undertaking research with charity Headway http://www.headway.org.uk, who is set up to give help and support to people affected by brain injury.
Equally, Tennant took his role very seriously and carried out extensive research to make his part as convincing as possible.
The 34-year-old said, 'Each instance of brain injury is very unique but you can get a general sense of what it might be through talking to people.
'You can't really imagine what it must be like to be married to somebody who becomes a different human being.
'Our brain is our personality, is our thoughts, is our world and, if that gets knocked, even a couple of degrees sideways, you become something fundamentally different.'
True to life
Comments of praise have been made by surgeons at Swansea's Morriston Hospital that this drama can only benefit UK viewers by giving them better insight into the issues surrounding serious head injuries. The BBC drama shows contrast to the miraculous recovery of Richard Hammond and gives a far more common picture of what coping with a brain injury involves.
Clinical nurse specialist for the Morriston Traumatic Brain Injury Service has this to say on the issue, 'He [Richard Hammond] doesn't represent the majority of head injury patients, and there is a risk that families and patients could have an unrealistic expectation about their recovery.
The sad truth is that in many cases the road to recovery is a very long one and patients often spend months or even years relearning simple tasks like speaking, eating, walking and dressing.
Their personalities can also change, which is something their partners and family can find very hard to cope with.
A person who was calm and laid-back could become angry and impatient and vice-versa. But because they look normal, and there is no obvious sign of injury, others expect them to act normally. It really is a hidden disability.'
Dramas like this will help the families and friends of those that are suffering from brain damage and other severe head injuries in developing their understanding and letting them know that others are going through similar issues and that support units are available. In turn, this should benefit the patients and may aid their recovery process.
Remember in many instances where a brain injury has occurred as a result of someone else's negligence claims for personal injury compensation may be eligible. It is always worth enlisting the help of personal injury solicitors to see whether they can assist you with making a claim.
Damages sought from a personal injury claim could be used to go towards lost earnings, medical expenses such as treatments, the cost of ongoing care, any belongings that were damaged at the time of your accident as well as the cost of any adaptations you may need to make to your home or life. www.the-claim-solicitors.co.uk
About the author:
Katy Lassetter, Online personal injury compensation claim specialists, with a 97% claim success rate. Call 0800 197 32 32 or visit www.the-claim-solicitors.co.uk for more details.