Increasing understanding of life with a brain injury

We’re focusing on real journeys of brain injury this week – research by charity Headway reveals the impact a brain injury can have on a person and their relationships.

One of the key findings of Headway’s study is that four-fifths (81%) of brain injury survivors feel their life would be improved if people had a better understanding of their injury.   The study by the brain injury charity, which had responses from over 800 people, also found:
  • Three-quarters (74%) of brain injury survivors feel like ‘a new person’ following their injury.
  • Three-quarters (77%) of brain injury survivors feel friends and family do not understand the effects of their injury.
  • 62% of respondents acknowledge the anniversary of their injury; of those who positively commented on their anniversary, one in 10 explicitly mentioned acknowledging it as a new birthday.
Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, explains: “We have always known that brain injury can affect personalities as well as a person’s cognitive and physical abilities, this study, however, sheds light on just how lives and futures can be altered at an instant as a result of sustaining a brain injury. “We often hear people tell us that their husband or wife is not the person they married, or that the person they knew didn’t really return from the hospital. “Coming to terms with the fact that you have not only lost the life you once led, but also the person you once were must be unimaginably difficult. “People often associate brain injury with impacting cognitive or physical skills, such as memory, speech, or movement. However, it can also change personalities and our behaviours, which can have a dramatic impact on our relationships and support networks. “What is clear from this study is that the experiences of those affected are unique and, while some will understandably struggle to accept the new person they have become, others positively embrace the change by celebrating the anniversary of their injury as a ‘second birthday’. “This shows that with the right help and support, there can be life after brain injury.”

“A different wee boy”

Janet McCullough of Northern Ireland confirms the importance of receiving help. She and her family have been supported by Brain Injury Matters and the Child Brain Injury Trust since her son Eric, aged eight, was left with a brain injury last year as the result of encephalitis – inflammation of the brain. She explained to the BBC that he has been left “a different wee boy”, struggling with tiredness and difficulties grasping the concept of time. "We are getting a lot of help at home, especially with the other children. "It is hard for them too to adjust to a new Eric because that is what he is – the other Eric we had before has gone. "From being a bright wee boy he is now dyslexic and needs a lot of help – he finds it hard to concentrate," she added. "But he's still my boy – he's great.”
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