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Headway Chief Explains Long-Term Impact Of Brain Injuries

The Long-Term Effects Of Brain Injuries Sometimes Get Overlooked


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The chief executive of brain injury charity Headway has explained what life is like for people who have suffered a serious head injury.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Peter McCabe said it is important that patients receive as much help as possible, as the consequences can be "disastrous" if they are sent back to their families without regular professional support.

Advances in medical technology have ensured that more people are surviving heart attacks, strokes and serious head injuries, but Mr McCabe insisted it is vital that the long-term impact of secondary brain injury complications are taken into account.

Around 280,000 people are admitted to hospital every year with injuries or conditions that have caused their brain to be starved of oxygen.

"People are put into a specialist neurological unit and very often lives are saved. It's what happens afterwards where the problems begin," the Headway chief told the Mail.

"If you save someone's life, it's got to be a life worth living. If you toss people back to their families without adequate support, it all falls on the family."

According to Headway statistics, around one million people in the UK are living with the long-term effects of brain problems, with men proven to be twice as likely to suffer a life-changing injury as women.

The Daily Mail reported that just seven per cent of brain injury patients receive help from social services in the long term.
It focused on the plight of 62-year-old manager Mike Burton of Livingstone, Scotland, who suffered a major heart attack in 2010, leaving him with irreparable brain damage.

His brain was starved of oxygen for 19 minutes and his wife Christine said he is no longer the same person. Mr Burton struggles to complete everyday tasks such as having a shower and preparing basic meals.

She was quoted as saying: "'His brain injury was so severe that his short-term memory span is only a couple of minutes, so it soon became clear that he would never be able to work again."

Christine has now given up her job in order to become a full-time carer for her husband.

Our serious injury claims team could help you claim compensation if you have suffered a serious head or brain injury as the result of an accident. Visit our Brain & Head Injury Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
Brain injuries can have a devastating effect on both the victims' lives and their friends and families.

It is crucial that sufferers receive the specialist support they need to be able to live as independently as possible. Our own research into rehabilitation proved that early, expert rehabilitation can have a significant impact on recovery and the extent to which they can get their lives back on track.

Providing rehabilitation that meets a consistently high standard could save the NHS around £120m – enough to pay for 5,000 newly qualified nurses. The cost of such care could be offset in as little as two years through savings from shorter hospital stays, reduced costs for support in the community and more independent living.

Whether it is support such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy or physical differences such as specialist equipment or an adapted house; it is important that we seek to help brain injury victims in every way we can.

I also think that our modern society should ensure that the needs of the brain injury community are not being overlooked by social services when considering community support, especially as it is often termed "the hidden disability" - there is a need for more specially trained brain injury social workers to be picking these cases up."
Neil Whiteley, Partner