West Yorkshire man speaks about the effect of the illness on his life
In the week that Lady Gaga shone the international news spotlight on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a 26-year-old former Electrical Test Engineer from West Yorkshire has opened up about his experience with the illness.
Mr Walker from Bradford was diagnosed with PTSD after suffering a harrowing work accident that saw him electrocuted by a large industrial transformer, causing severe burns to both hands and perforation of his nasal septum. He has undergone skin grafts and multiple surgeries to his hands and needs to have a silicone button inserted in place of his nasal septum every three to four years for the rest of his life.
However, arguably the most significant impact on his life has been the severe psychological injury that left him with a phobia to using high voltage equipment, meaning he was unable to return to his previous employment at a relatively young age.
Mr Walker said: “Before this accident, I always thought PTSD was something that soldiers and people in the military get after being in war zones; I didn’t understand that it was much more common and far reaching. Obviously, the accident was hugely traumatic but I didn’t realise the impact that it would have on my whole life and the restrictions it could place on my future career opportunities. I believe that getting the right help, and quickly, has been a crucial factor in enabling me to move on with my life and find ways to cope with the PTSD.”
Philip Austick who represented Mr Walker on behalf of personal injury specialists, Minster Law, understood the need for immediate support and fought hard to avoid lengthy court proceedings that could further affect his client. Using his experience in complex claims, Associate Solicitor, Philip, and his team took a robust approach, invoking the Rehabilitation Code at an early stage which led to the insurers agreeing to fund rehabilitation once an early admission of liability was obtained.
Speaking of Mr Walker’s case, Philip Austick of Minster Law said: “The psychological distress experienced by Mr Walker, and the subsequent PTSD diagnosis, meant that it was important to make this process as stress-free as possible for him. We wanted to find ways to help him secure alternative employment and get the ongoing treatment that he needed to cope with the complexities of this illness.
“We’re delighted that we were able to secure early support in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy and funding to support Mr Walker’s initial needs following the incident. He has now found alternative employment with the firm where he served his apprenticeship as he was unable to return to his former testing role. He is now working towards a more secure future, but seeing people of Lady Gaga’s status raising awareness of PTSD for sufferers worldwide is an important step in gaining greater understanding and support for people affected by the illness.
According to patient.co.uk, a survey of the general population in England found that 3 in 100 adults screened positive for PTSD. The website also reported that, in addition to a significant increase in the number of ex-service personnel seeking help for mental illness and PTSD, the post traumatic illness develops in 1 in 5 firefighters, 1 in 3 teenage survivors of car crashes and 1 in 2 female rape victims.