What Are The Effects Of A Brain Injury?
The Law Of… Understanding The Effects Of Brain Injuries
As part of charity Headway's brain injury awareness week, specialists and sufferers are coming together to discuss how these serious injuries can affect every part of a person's life after an accident.
The theme of the week is 'A New Me', which aims to put brain injury survivors, carers, and families at the heart of the discussion of brain injuries. Those affected are encouraged to share how their lives have been impacted by brain injury in the hope that misconceptions about brain injuries are challenged.
In a bid to raise awareness of the everyday effects of brain injury, Matthew Clayton – Partner in in Simpson Millar's Serious Injury team and expert in brain injury claims – answers some of the common questions that arise after a brain injury.
How Do Brain Injuries Affect Sufferers?
Broadly speaking, some of the common effects of a brain injury include:
- Cognitive effects: Brain injuries can seriously affect the cognitive abilities of a sufferer, with aspects like the way a person thinks, learns new skills, and remembers events all potentially affected.
Mental abilities are split around the brain, so what cognitive abilities are actually at risk will depend on the type of injury sustained.
Many brain injury sufferers struggle with language, concentration, processing information, and understanding situations after their injury - despite none of these everyday scenarios posing any problems before their injury.
- Communication problems: Many brain injury sufferers can struggle to communicate after their injury, as the cognitive, physical, and emotional effects of their injury combining to make it difficult for them to understand what is being said to them and making it equally as hard to get their own points across.
- Emotional & behavioural difficulties: Some of the emotional and behavioural difficulties after a brain injury can be the most difficult to deal with, as people can seem to turn in to a completely different person after their accident.
Personality changes, mood swings, depression, anxiety, frustration, obsessive behaviour, and sudden impulsive urges can all cause serious distress to brain injury sufferers and their support network.
- Physical effects: The majority of brain injury sufferers make an excellent physical recovery after a brain injury, meaning that there are no outward signs of disability, however in some instances that parts of the brain that control movement can be affected, resulting in mobility issues, limb weakness, paralysis, fatigue, and epilepsy.
Brain injuries can affect sufferers in different ways and the same injury can have vastly different complications for different people.
When we talk about the effects of brain injuries it's important to remember the complexities of the brain; these complexities mean that every part of a person's character, from their memories to their personality, could be affected by an injury.
What Support Is Available To Brain Injury Sufferers?
Due to the work of charities such as Headway there is a range of support groups available to brain injury sufferers, as well as those closest to them.
There are helplines, online communities, local support groups, counsellors, medical professionals, and a host of charities and support groups that all specialise in helping brain injury sufferers, and their loved ones, adjust to the new challenges presented by a brain injury.
Locally, support groups that bring together other brain injury sufferers to share and reflect on personal experiences can offer a great outlet for any frustrations that sufferers feel when those closest to them don’t seem to understand what they are going through.
These local services may be difficult to access, so national services, such as Headway's helpline and online groups on forums and social media channels can offer a space for sufferers to discuss their feelings and challenges to those who have been through the same problems.
As well as the injured person themselves, support is available for those closest to a brain injury sufferer, as they may need to understand how to accommodate and support a new personality with new frustrations and emotional challenges. Much like the services for brain injury sufferers themselves, a brain injury support network can access help and advice both locally at dedicated brain injury centres or nationally though online resources and phone helplines.
For more information on the support available to brain injury sufferers, and those closest to them, check the work of:
Can Compensation Help Rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation can be difficult for brain injury sufferers, with many injured persons requiring long-term support, whether this is to combat the cognitive, physical, emotional, or behavioural effects of their injury.
Despite this, there are experts in all of these fields and research and understanding of brain injury and rehabilitation is of such depth today that recovery is possible and many brain injury sufferers can go on to live independent lives.
While the work of charity organisations and services will provide a valuable support network there are some steps on the road to rehabilitation that will require the advice of a team of expert healthcare specialists, which can incur significant costs at a time that working – and thus gaining regular income – can be difficult.
It is for this reason that a compensation claim is a vital aspect of many brain injury sufferers' recovery process, especially as early in a claim an interim payment may be secured to ensure that the very best care is attained from the earliest possible moment.
Compensation can help to secure long-term care in the most severe cases and a settlement will take in to account any future support, treatment, and rehabilitation that could be required; this means that a claim for a brain injury will not only secure current care but also future support, meaning that brain injury sufferers will never be out of pocket for the care and support required for the injury they sustained through the negligence of a third party.