A report in the Daily Mail has highlighted the reality of living with a brain injury by telling the story of Mike Burton who suffered brain damage following a heart attack.
In 2010 Mike, from West Lothian, suffered a heart attack at his home while watching TV. He was saved by medics but his brain was starved of oxygen for 19 minutes causing serious brain damage.
After being an outgoing and affable man, Mike now doesn’t talk often and cannot keep up with a conversation, according to his wife, Christine. She says: ‘It’s like someone has taken your husband away and brought home a completely different person, adding that she misses the ‘little jokes we used to have’.
Christine says her husband no longer likes to socialise and shuts down when people ask him questions, although he is oblivious to his condition.
In practical terms, living with someone who has a brain injury is also difficult. Christine says that the knobs from the oven have had to be removed because Mike used to turn on gas when he was making something, then forget about it.
Christine has now left her job to become Mike’s full-time carer, she said: “His brain injury was so severe that his short-term memory span is only a couple of minutes, so it soon became clear that he would never be able to work again.”
Figures reported in the article suggest that only 7% of patients with brain injuries receive help from social services and that there are 1 million who live with long-term disabilities caused by brain injuries.
Further analysis suggests there could be a rise in brain injury victims as the success rate of people recovering from heart attacks and strokes rises. There are approximately 280,000 people who are taken to hospital with a brain injury every year, many of these are cases where the brain has been starved of oxygen.
Peter McCabe of Headway brain charity says that many lives are saved as a result of brain damage but it is afterwards when the problems start. He says: “If you save someone’s life, it’s got to be a life worth living. If you toss people back to their families without adequate support, it all falls on the family. The consequences can be disastrous.”
He said that rehabilitation services are ‘patchy’ for brain injury victims, stating that there are some communities with good support while others have nothing at all.
According to Dr. Richard Greenwood, a consultant neurologist from London, “life can be hard for families who need to adapt and there could be ‘residual problems’ underneath”. He describes living with a brain injury as a ‘hidden handicap’.
Jo Johnson, a consultant neuropsychologist from West Sussex, says that people around someone with a brain injury can think that everything is okay when really it is not. The author of My Parent Has A Brain Injury, Jo says people can feel like they are going mad and are to blame for not helping their partner make a full recovery.
If you or a member of your family has suffered a brain injury through no fault of your own, please get in touch with Jefferies Solicitors. We specialise in brain injury claims and work hard to get our clients the compensation they are entitled to. Please call us on 0800 342 3206 to tell us more about your circumstances.
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Published on 16th February 2015.