Sun 03 May 2015
Head injury has become a relatively common aspect of news these days. In recent times Michael Schumacher, James Cracknell and Phillip Hughes have been the subject of head injuries sustained during participation in sport.
Headway, the national brain injury charity works to improve life after brain injury. In Palmers Green and Southgate, the North London group of Headway works directly with people with brain injury offering support, understanding, signposting and events and activities to help those affected by brain injury and their families and carers. Led by a board comprising those who have lived with brain injury, plus neurological and
legal professionals, Headway North London is the first point of call for many who are learning to cope with brain injury.
Brain injuries can be sustained in many ways. Traumatic head injuries can occur through road traffic accidents, assaults, falls and accidents at home or work. Acquired brain injury can be sustained through brain tumours, stroke, aneurysm and diseases such as encephalitis. Brain injuries can affect anyone at any time and the effects and impacts are commonly life-long and life-changing.
The effects of brain injury can be wide ranging, and depend on a number of factors such as the type, location and severity of injury. Every person's injury is unique, so they will experience any number of the symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. The common effects can be grouped:
• emotional reaction and behavioural changes which, in turn, can make it difficult for friends and family to adjust to life after a brain injury;
• cognitive problems, such as speed of thought, memory, understanding, concentration, solving problems and using language;
• reduced awareness;
• communication difficulties; the ability to communicate requires extremely complex skills and many different parts of the brain are involved;
• physical problems;
• hormonal imbalances and pituitary dysfunction.
Brain injuries are difficult because they often have no physical sign that they exist. They are very hard to predict and understand. They have an impact much wider than just the person affected.
Hazel was diagnosed with a brain tumour, which she battled with for eight years. Headway provided support and guidance for her, provided advice and input into her medical case conferences and provided a place where her fears and worries could be listened to by experienced people that she found easy to trust.
Phil fell off a ladder in his garage, banged his head and found he could no longer carry out his work in the petrochemical business. Emotionally, he found it hard to cope, and he became increasingly distant from his wife and family. However, over a number of years, and through the support of the local Headway group, Phil was able to come to terms with his injury and bring his family together in support of a different future.
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