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Chesterfield Family Supports Action For Brain Injury Week

Brain injury at work


The mother of a man from Eckington who was left partially disabled and almost blinded after an injury at work is supporting Action for Brain Injury Week (11 to 17 May).

Mark Downs, from Castlehill in Eckington is currently going through an extensive rehabilitation programme after sustaining a severe brain injury while working at Haddee Engineering Ltd.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell, who represented Mr Downs after his accident, is working with Headway, the Brain Injury Association, to support various fundraising and awareness raising activities across the region to highlight the dangers of serious head injuries.

Sandra Downs, Mark's Mother, said: "Mark suffered a serious head injury and without the help of paramedics things could have turned out much worse. Action for Brain Injury Week is very important to us. Without support from the medical specialists that treated Mark and the head injury experts at Irwin Mitchell we would never have been able to get to the stage of Mark's rehabilitation that we are at now.

"The hard work will continue and the path to Mark leading a full and independent life is just beginning."

Rachael Aram, an associate solicitor specialising in dealing with head-injured clients at law firm Irwin Mitchell supports the Downs family. She said: "Head injuries can lead to serious problems with some people left suffering from multiple cognitive problems, and in severe cases, long-term disabilities.

"In cases like Mark's it is important that here at Irwin Mitchell we go beyond the claim for compensation and place an emphasis on rehabilitation. We have been able to help him access ongoing rehabilitation services and point the family in the right direction to receive further support from charities such as Headway.

"Supporting our clients with their ongoing recovery needs such as therapy, suitable housing, transport, aids and equipment, and care support can really help improve their quality of life and allow them to pursue an active lifestyle in the community."

Mr Downs was very seriously injured during an incident at work in October 2007. He sustained a severe brain injury after being hit by a metal sheet being carried in a tandem lift and was knocked against a steel metal skip.

Paramedics arrived at the scene and initially treated Mr Downs, he was then admitted to the Neurosurgical Unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital as an emergency case.

Scans revealed a deep skull fracture, brain contusions and right sided haemorrhage which required surgery for 16 hours. He remained at the Royal Hallamshire for three months following the accident when he was transferred to the Northern General Hospital for neuro-rehabilitation.

Titanium plates were surgically inserted in order to protect his brain as a result of the extensive damage to his skull. Mr Downs also had multiple fractures to both eye sockets which were crushed and have left him blind in his right eye with only partial vision in the left. He also has problems with his balance and is paralysed down his left side. He has lost his sense of smell and taste.

Mr Downs has since been discharged and is back home with his family despite his horrific injuries.

Miss Aram of Irwin Mitchell said: "Mark's rehabilitation is ongoing and he is receiving considerable support from his family. He relies heavily on his siblings and parents who take him out in the community and encourage Mark to progress with his therapy in order to gain further independence.

"He is undertaking further speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy in the community and has received assistance from the Royal Society for the Blind. He’s also currently on the waiting list for a guide dog to assist his independence in the community."

Mark and his family got in touch with their local Headway branch, Headway North Derbyshire, where they now attend regularly to get involved in Headway's activities and social gatherings.

More details of Headway's campaign can be found at www.headway.org.uk under "Action for Brain Injury Week 2009".