Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries


Age at interview: 53

Brief outline: Barrie sustained a traumatic brain injury in a hit and run incident five years before being interviewed. He was unable to return to work because of the memory problems he had after his injury.

Background: Barrie volunteers at Headway and Age UK. He is single, lives alone and his ethnic background is White English.

Audio & video

On his way home from the pub, Barrie was crossing the road when he was knocked down by a hit and run driver. He was taken to hospital and was in a coma for six weeks. Barrie cannot remember his injury happening and for the first year after his injury he describes how he didn’t want to know anything because he didn’t want to “relive it over and over again”. For him, not being able to remember is a good thing. 
The hospital he attended had a specialist team dedicated to assessing and arranging rehabilitation for survivors of brain injury. They arranged for him to see a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and a psychologist. 
Barrie said he was quite defensive in the early days after his injury. He felt very down and refused the help that people were offering him. He said he felt like “the whole world’s against me. You’re in denial. You’re anxious. Stress you can’t handle at all. Things that were easy before are a nightmare afterwards”. He said he questioned if “life was always going to be like this”. He was told he would recover more, but that it would take time, but “the time is indeterminate”. 
Initially, Barrie went back to work part-time, but he found that “things that were simple before were a nightmare”. His employer decided to let him go. Sadly, he also lost his mother at this time. He was diagnosed with depression and took antidepressant medication for eighteen months. His friends looked for support groups to help him and told him about Headway. Attending Headway “brought it to reality” for him; he “realised that there are more people far worse off” than he was. 
Barrie received compensation for his injury that means he is financially stable. Five years after his injury, he says he has pretty much recovered, but he still has memory problems. As a message to other people who have recently been injured, Barrie says' “It’s not a quick process. Try and find what you can do and what you cannot do. Help is out there, but it’s actually finding it. Use your medical people to point you in the right direction.” 



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