Road traffic accident: Barbara and Melissa

Barbara’s daughter Melissa was eight years old when she sustained multiple brain injuries in 2009.

Published: July 2015. Date of brain injury: 2009 (child aged 8 years). Melissa, from Prestonpans, Scotland, was coming out of school when she was hit by a car, thrown over to the other side of the road and was trapped under another car, leading her to suffer five bleeds to the brain. When she was given the news, her mother Barbara’s initial thoughts were those of grief. She adds: "I was devestated and scared of the outcome and her quality of life."
Looking back, Barbara wishes that she had received more information about acquired brain injury and the long lasting effects of brain injury from doctors. "I wished the doctors had spaced out the information. We received too much at one time. Acquired brain injury was mentioned at the beginning. Melissa went back to school really quick so we thought she was back to normal Melissa. But soon after we noticed changes. We felt so isolated and alone." "People thought she was back to normal and all the support we had at the beginning dwindled. The drama crisis was over. Everyone was there when she was in her coma but nowhere to be seen now. Still people look at her and don't know what all the fuss is."

Returning to school

While at first Melissa's family thought she was back to her old self, they soon began to notice changes. Problems included fatigue, tremors and going through premature puberty as a result of her brain injury. "She was also bullied and was victim of a serious assault," says Barbara. "She had slurred speech and was slower at processing information. She became very lonely as her friends gave up. There were mobility issues, as well as anger and frustration, thoughts of self-harming and body image issues." Barbara commented that “still people look at her and don’t know what all the fuss is.”
Still people look at her and don't know what all the fuss is."Barbara

The lasting effects of acquired brain injury

Melissa still suffers from fatigue and tremors, as well as memory, balance and mobility issues. She also suffers from emotional and mental health issues and problems with social skills. However, the effects of acquired brain injury have not been entirely negative. Barbara says: “It’s like the brain has found a new route and a creative side that was not there. She has become an adrenaline junkie and developed a love for horse riding. Barbara says that Melissa's brain injury has escalated the normal worries of a mum: "I do worry about the future. About exams, her employment in the future, her health and her being a mum."
It's like the brain has found a new route and a creative side that was not there."Barbara
"But children and young people with ABI may reach their potential. They may take a little longer getting there, but with encouragement, patience and understanding can have the same opportunity in life as any other child. "To other families and children going through a similar experience I would say: take each day at a time.”
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