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Brain injured man reveals the real impact of unseen damage

Brain Awareness Week 16-22 March 2015

When Nottingham-based Ian suffered a brain injury following a road traffic accident, his mental and physical health were not the only things to be affected; his marriage and job were also casualties – something which Minster Law solicitor Jonathan Bamforth believes is all too frequent in cases he sees where a client has been affected by a brain injury*.

However just over five years on from the accident – which left Ian close to death – he is now living a semi-independent life with the  help of his mum and support workers, and owns the home that he shares with his son. As we approach Brain Awareness Week on 16-22 March, Ian is among the many people trying to create a greater understanding of brain injuries and their impact on families. His solicitor, Jonathan, believes that part of the problem people with brain injuries face is the unseen and unknown nature of their injuries.

He said: “The interesting thing about Ian is that he is an absolutely classic case of someone with the remnants of a severe brain injury who presents very well. It is fair to say that Ian suffered injuries that are among the most severe that I have seen in a case where the client survived. He was close to death for a significant period of time.

“If you met him you would probably notice the fact that his eyes are slightly misaligned and that he has some modest scarring to his head, but other than that you would not think that he had a brain injury. He can hold a perfectly natural conversation about most day to day issues, but if you saw him for seven days on the trot you might have that same conversation with him each time.

“The main problem he has on an ongoing basis, as far as I am concerned, is a lack of initiation. This can be confused to a degree with a lack of motivation but it is different.  Ian is motivated to do things but his injury means that he never quite gets round to it.”

While the 45-year-old  will not return to work as a pipe fitter, due to issues with sequencing and following processes amongst others, he is keen to tackle the frustration of unemployment through voluntary work. His support workers are helping him to pursue opportunities.

Ian’s experience with brain injury began on 9 November 2009 when he was making the familiar return journey home from work. A motorist pulled out of a side road without seeing him, causing him to be thrown from his motorcycle. Despite the fact that he was not travelling unduly quickly and was wearing the correct apparel, he sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and other serious physical injuries. He remained in hospital until February 2010

In the months after his return home it is sad to say that Ian’s relationship with his wife deteriorated culminating in a separation  in late 2011 and, thereafter, a divorce which was finalised last year. Despite that he is contented with the life that he has rebuilt.

Ian said: “The experience following my accident has been traumatic for my whole family, not just me, because it altered who I was in a lot of ways and I had to accept the realisation that I would never be the same person again. I feel lucky to have regained the life that I have and look forward to new possibilities and opportunities.”

Minster Law is co-hosting an event with the Chronic Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre at the University of York entitled: Brain Injury: The Unseen and Unknown, chaired by Jonathan Bamforth on Thursday 23rd April at the University of York. The event will seek to consider the wider issues and context for brain injury with a view to sharing knowledge, developing understanding and improving lives of those affected. For more info, and to register, click here: https://minsterlaw.co.uk/2015/03/brain-injury-the-unseen-and-unkown/