The impact of traumatic brain injury

In 1988 John Hindle was your average child looking forward to what life would bring, yet a road crash left him with serious injuries that would affect him for the rest of his life. Here he describes what people who suffer from traumatic brain injuries go through.

An issue that I have faced since having my road crash is society’s attitudes towards brain injury and the lack of understanding if you are open about having a brain injury, especially if it is a hidden disability. Here I hope to educate you more on what people who suffer from traumatic brain injury go through.

There are thought to be over half a million people nationwide who have survived acquired brain injury and are now dealing with a permanent disability. This figure includes road crashes, sports injuries and injuries sustained at work.

Advances in acute care mean that many survive today who would not have done so a few years ago, including me. A large proportion are left with serious physical and psychological disabilities, often both. These long-standing disabilities result in considerable social and emotional problems for brain injured people and their families.

As a result of road crashes, many people suffer from traumatic brain injuries and need to re-learn many aspects of daily life to enable them to function the best they can in a busy society, a society which often doesn’t recognise the problems faced by brain injury survivors, causing isolation for many.

From my own perspective, I had to learn to walk, talk and feed myself again and struggled through mainstream school because of lack of awareness of my disability.

Any isolation that someone has because of their disability is impacted on by a great number of experiences that can often be unseen, including memory problems, physical and mental fatigue, confusion, migraines, mood swings, flashbacks and cognitive difficulties, leaving the individual vulnerable, and many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

There are also problems with spatial awareness, noise, speech and co-ordination. People with brain injuries are often misunderstood due to them misinterpreting situations and information.

Brain injury is often a hidden disability so it is vital that charities and other organisations continue to work towards helping people understand what they cannot see, and raise awareness to highlight the difficulties faced by people who have suffered from brain injuries.

Therefore it is important to inform and advise on the welfare of brain injured families and provide education, training and development for professionals involved in care and rehabilitation, and encourage and support the formation and running of self-help groups.

With the right support, as I have had over time, people can overcome their disability and fulfil their potential. Having a desire to learn and not listen to negative views in adult life is one attribute that is required and one that has seen me complete three years of undergraduate study and four years’ postgraduate study.

There can be repercussions in trying to live a normal life and, while I have enjoyed my education immensely, I have also developed chronic fatigue syndrome in adult life due to trying to maintain employment, and I still experience difficulties which make daily life an uphill struggle.