Who is this person? Why has he changed? He doesn’t seem to be the same person anymore? Why is he aggressive towards me? Why is he always angry? Why doesn’t he think before he says such hurtful things?
Do these questions sound familiar?
These are questions that have been regularly put to Hampson Hughes by the mother of a brain injured young man. Joanne is a solicitor specialising in Traumatic Brain Injury at Hampson Hughes.
Joanne acts for David, who was involved in a serious road traffic collision almost 3 years ago. David suffered what the medics described a severe traumatic brain injury. Joanne has been involved with David’s case and his family since his admission to hospital following the horrific accident.
David is Joanne’s client but due to the severe nature of his injury, his family’s lives have also been turned upside down. Joanne has been the point of contact for the family from the outset of the case.
When in hospital David was placed into a medically induced coma in order for his brain to effectively switch off and heal. Medical staff monitored his progress and after a few days he was slowly brought back to consciousness.
When David did come around he had no memory of the accident, nor did he know why he was in hospital. He didn’t really understand what was going on. He was frightened and convinced himself that he was being kept there against his will. David’s family were devastated that he did not initially recognise them. He was aggressive, he shouted at the nurses, he was confused.
As time went on, it became apparent that David was not able to feed himself. He was so confused that he did not realise the food that had been placed in front of him, was in fact, his. His mum visited the hospital for about 8 hours every day. She was there at mealtimes so that she could physically feed David and ensure he was getting the nutrients his body needed.
David was not able to walk so his mum would take care of his personal hygiene by wheeling him into the wet room and showering him. David’s mum did all of this on auto pilot. She wanted to care for her son.
On discharge, David lived with his parents and they did everything for him. He was not able to return to his pre accident employment as an electrician. He had lost all of his friends. He did not want to socialise. His adult brothers and sisters did not fully understand what had happened and how he had been affected by his brain injury.
This injury caused a rift in the family and this proved stressful for everyone involved. Feeling alone, David became depressed. He was turning into a different person than the man he was before the accident. He also suffered extreme fatigue which meant by 2pm each day, he felt as though he had hit a brick wall.
Nearly 3 years down the line, she wonders how she managed. She would say, ‘I just had to. I am his mum.’ David’s mum and dad have suffered depression as a result of the injury which he sustained. They continue to struggle with the illness and more recently, reality has hit home again for David’s mum. She has had to seek counselling for relatives of a brain injured person. Joanne has found a lady who specifically deals with brain injury and has put much needed counselling in place for David’s mum and dad as their lives have been devastated by what has happened to their son.
Although David is now living independently of them as his parents, he will never be independent in the sense that we understand the meaning of independent to be. He lives with a team of support workers who Joanne has put in place. They specialise in supporting those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Joanne has sourced an excellent neuropsychologist who treats David weekly to deal with his anxiety and depression as well as the things that come up which cause him undue stress. David is not able to do a lot on his own so Joanne has put in place an occupational therapist who can help with the tasks that he struggles with and ensures that he is safe when he does his ironing and cooking.
David is not able to manage his own affairs due to memory and concentration problems. He is very impulsive which means he struggles to plan. This means that he cannot plan the day ahead like we all do each and every day. He is not able to cook on his own as his safety would be severely compromised. He is not able to work at all as his fatigue sets in by early afternoon and this prevents him from doing anything other than what is absolutely necessary.
The support team help with his activities of daily living which include supporting him with his household chores, his post that comes in, making medical appointments, and preparing and cooking meals to ensure he eats a balanced diet. David has now reached a plateau in his recovery and the support which he has in place will remain for the rest of his life. This may sound daunting but as a parent, they are happy and safe in the knowledge that David will be cared for by the team and will be financially looked after even when they are no longer able to be around. All of this has been arranged and put in place by David’s legal team at Hampson Hughes Solicitors.
A Traumatic Brain Injury does not just affect the person who has suffered the injury. The family are those closest and often it is they who notice the severe or subtle changes in their loved one. It is more often the case that the injured person has no real insight into how they have been affected and they often think it is those around them who have changed. This is a common occurrence. It must be remembered though that help is available for families who are also suffering as a result of Traumatic Brain Injury.