Brain Injury In The North East
Thousands of brain injury sufferers in the north east are not receiving the care and support they need, according to Headway, the brain injury association.
The claim came after more than 120 people attended an event at St James Park aimed at unravelling the mysteries surrounding brain injuries and outlining the help that is available.
Brain injury victims, their carers and healthcare professionals were among the attendees at the sell-out event, hosted by brain injury organisation Headway and law firm Irwin Mitchell.
Alastair White, from Headway, said the turnout and response from people showed there was a lot of misunderstanding about the effects of brain injuries and the problems they can cause.
He said not nearly enough people were aware of their rights and the extent of the support that they could access.
Symptoms of long-term brain injury can sometimes be obvious and include paralysis, epilepsy and difficulty in speaking, but they can equally go undetected and include loss of memory and concentration, mood swings and depression.
Mr White said: Brain injuries tend to slip through the net - they are considered to be a grey area between physical problems and mental illness and sufferers can find themselves being passed from pillar to post as they bid to get help.
The Department of Health has laid out requirements for the treatment of head and brain injury patients in its National Service Framework for Long Term Neurological Conditions but these are a long way from being implemented in the majority of the North East. Headway and other neurological organisations are working hard to help ensure that the requirements are met.
Health and welfare specialist Lisa Pitts, solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, was among the speakers at the event. She said: The range of brain injuries can range from those that are barely detectable but still have a huge impact on people's lives, to the far more serious kind that leave adults in an incredibly vulnerable state.
Only last week it was claimed that the UK economy was effectively being subsidised by up to £87bn each year by unpaid carers, proving their value to society. It is vitally important that these people are given the support that they need.
While practically everyone who is caring for a loved one feels it is their duty to do so, it does not mean there isn't more help out there for them. The problem is nothing will be handed to them on a plate - they need to know where to look and who to speak to, while the amount of red tape can be a nightmare.
There were hundreds of examples at our event of people who need more support and we know that is only scratching the surface in the north east.