James Cracknell Speaks Out About Brain Injuries

Olympic Champion Documents How Hard It Can Be To Overcome A Serious Brain Injury


Double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell has explained how difficult it can be to recover from a serious brain injury.

The athlete was involved in a near-fatal accident while cycling in Arizona in 2010 and he is still receiving therapy.

In a Q&A piece for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cracknell admitted to being sceptical about some of the treatments being offered to him soon after the incident. He was particularly unsure about how much help neurologists, neuropsychologists, occupational therapists and psychiatrists could provide.

"To begin with, I definitely had the mindset that these people didn't know the pre-accident me, so how could they help the post-accident me to find that person? As time passed, though, I learned to trust their expertise," he wrote.

Mr Cracknell added that he eventually found his neuropsychologist to be especially helpful, as he was able to treat her as an "oasis" where he could talk about his feelings without fear of being judged.

The former rower - who won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Athens Games - is currently receiving cognitive behavioural therapy, which has helped his rehabilitation.

Mr Cracknell is a good example of someone who has refused to let the long-term effects of a serious brain injury ruin his life.

He is renowned for participating in gruelling races and expeditions and he visited the Canadian Yukon to take part in the Coldest Race on Earth just six months after his accident.

In his Telegraph piece, the athlete said he refrained from drinking alcohol for the first year after the incident and he makes sure he consumes plenty of water.

Expert Opinion
The frankness with which James Cracknell talks about his experiences after suffering a serious head injury is refreshing and what he says will be recognised by many people who have faced the same challenges.

“It is often misunderstood how significant the effect of such injuries can be; it important that professionals working with people suffering from brain injury recognise these challenges so as to help them to get the best from life.

James is a great speaker and will be talking about his experiences at the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum conference in London on 21 November.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner