Surviving Brain Damage

And the importance of having the right team around you.

Brain damage can affect people in different ways depending on the nature of the personal injury

Last year the BBC reported  the story of a lady in America who had been found in California with no memory of who she was. It appears she had suffered from cancer which had caused retrograde amnesia. She spoke with a slight Australian accent and had memories of swimming at a beach in Perth, Western Australia, which led the authorities to suspect she may have originally been from Australia.

After a Facebook campaign for friends or relatives to come forward, she was identified as Ashley Menetta, an American, and she was happily reunited with her family.

The case illustrates how different types of brain damage – whether caused by a traumatic event such as an accident or a stroke, or by illness – can cause very specific symptoms, depending on the part of the brain affected. In Ashley Menetta’s case it was her memory and with it her sense of personal identity. She described it as like living in a thick fog that she couldn’t see through.

Brain injuries rarely affect someone’s brain function right across the board. Instead they affect specific functions depending on the nature of the damage. Problems with concentration and tiredness are very common, often leaving people unable to work. Accidents often cause problems with people’sself-control, leaving them prone to becoming angry or upset, often with little or no provocation. They might behave in socially inappropriate ways, being overly familiar with others, or being rude or abusive, and in either case other people can struggle to understand their behaviour.

Brain injuries can also affect things such as walking and other motor functions, speech and language, numeracy, planning and awareness of risk. They can cause illnesses such as depression.

The East London branch of Headway, the Brain Injury Charity, has set up a web page for the survivors of brain injury to tell their stories – whoareyounow.org. The range of stories illustrates how every case of brain injury is different, and how the lives of the survivors and their families change.

Brain injuries can be devastating, all the more so without support. However, the Headway stories show how the people around survivors – whether families, friends or professionals – provide a safety net, a helping hand to help them come to terms with what has happened and to allow them to move on, whether that is to return to their old life as much as possible, or to strike out in an entirely new direction.

Hunt & Coombs work with specialist brain injury case managers to secure support and rehabilitation for people who suffer brain injuries in accidents. Modern personal injury law is about much more than just recovering compensation money. The main purpose of a claim should be to help the injured person, and to do so as soon as possible, by securing funding and arranging for support to be put in place well before the legal claim comes to an end, and to ensure that support lasts long after that.

If you, or a relative have suffered a brain injury in an accident, contact Naina Tilney or Richard Moon on 01733 882800 to find out how we can help.

If you would like advice on trusts, powers of attorney and managing money for someone who has suffered a brain injury, please call Paddy Appleton or Henry Anstey on 01733 882800.

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.