Michelle Stoton Wants To Raise Awareness Of Life After Brain Injury After Incident While Daughter Danielle Was Recovering From Hit-And-Run
The mother of a young woman who was once refused service in a Doncaster pub because bar staff mistook her brain injury for being drunk is speaking out about life after sustaining brain injury as part of Action For Brain Injury Week.
Michelle Stoton’s daughter Danielle, 21, suffered life-changing injuries in a hit-and-run in Armthorpe, Doncaster, in August 2014.
Michelle, 43, instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help Danielle access specialist care and rehabilitation to help aid her recovery and support her as she came to terms with her injury.
Her legal team also supported her throughout the investigation into the crash, and in May 2015 they saw the driver responsible for her injuries jailed for eight months and given a two-year driving ban.
But 16 months after the near-fatal incident, when Michelle and Danielle met a friend who had also been seriously injured in a crash, for a drink, the friends were refused service for being too drunk – despite showing staff a card Danielle carries showing she is a brain injury survivor.
Bar staff had mistaken the pair’s speech problems as a result of their injuries as having had too much to drink.
Michelle now hopes to use Action for Brain Injury Week to help educate people about the effects of brain injury and how it can affect people in every aspect of their everyday life.
She said: “Suffering a brain injury can result in wide ranging physical and psychological problems, including slurring of speech, unsteadiness on your feet and impulsive reactions”.
“When the bar staff refused to serve Danielle, her frustration and short temper – a result of the trauma to her brain - made the situation worse, and although I stepped in to explain and present Danielle’s Brain Injury ID card, we were still asked to leave. It was really upsetting when your daughter is trying to get back on track and get on with everyday things people take for granted.”
Michelle received overwhelming support when she shared the experience on Facebook, with more than 500 messages and 3,300 shares.
Taking place from May 8 to 14, this year’s annual Action for Brain Injury campaign week organised by Headway is based around the theme of life after brain injury and how such injuries have a lasting impact on not only survivors but also their families and carers.
As part of its work Headway has established ‘a new me’, a platform for people to share experiences which has been created to both challenge misconceptions about brain injury and also highlight the value that the right support can provide.
Michelle added: “There are lots of things that have changed in Danielle’s life as a result of her injury, but we were not really prepared for a misunderstanding like the one in the pub, so I think it’s good to share the story, not out of any sense of ongoing bad feeling, but just to raise some awareness of the fact that life doesn’t go back to normal after you’re discharged from hospital. Things are different. Danielle is different. But she is not going to let it hold her back and for that I am immensely proud of her.”
Expert Opinion“Brain injury can have such varying effects on an individual depending on the location and extent of injury.
"It is not uncommon for people to undergo personality change and to behave in ways which they wouldn’t have done before their injury. When they also have physical problems, it is perhaps not surprising that an altercation took place in the pub when Danielle was mistaken for being drunk.
"It’s very hard for the individuals and their families to come to terms with the effects of brain injury and adjustment to the “new person” is key. Sharing experiences and raising awareness is really helpful and Headway promotes this.
“Headway suggests that brain injury survivors carry a Brain Injury Survivors ID card to raise awareness of brain injury but unfortunately in Danielle’s case this wasn’t able to help and raising awareness is the best way to counter these issues.
“While her experience at the pub almost 18 months ago was a negative one, Danielle is making positive progress in her rehabilitation and it’s great that she is willing to have her mum talk about what happened to help raise awareness of a much-misunderstood issue like brain injury.
“It was a huge step for Danielle to go to a busy bar and order drinks. It was a turning point in her recovery at the time but instead of being the milestone she hoped, it ended up reinforcing how difficult something so many of us take for granted can be for a brain injury survivor.
“This year’s Action For Brain Injury Week 'a new me' theme is providing a great platform for people like Danielle and their families to share their stories, dispel some myths and raise awareness of brain injury and what life after such a trauma is like.” Caroline Mitchell - Associate Solicitor
Read more about the work of Irwin Mitchell's Serious Injury Team here.