Londoners’ experiences of life-changing injuries


Age at interview: 21

Brief outline: Daniel sustained a traumatic brain injury just over a year ago. It was the result of a car accident in which no other vehicles were involved. He spent six weeks in intensive care and then had three months of rehabilitation to help him walk and talk again. He has had some seizures since his injury. He still has outpatient therapy.

Background: Daniel has a long-term girlfriend and, since his injury, lives at home with his parents and younger brother. He works in retail, but has not returned to his job since his injury.

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Just over a year before he was interviewed, Daniel was involved in a car accident. He was driving home after a party and hit a tree. The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) crew treated him at the scene before he was rushed by ambulance to hospital for an immediate operation. He spent about three weeks in a coma.
Daniel realised he was starting to “become aware” when he began to feel people touching him. He wasn’t able to speak and describes spending several weeks just resting in the bed. He was transferred from hospital to a rehabilitation unit. 
He had physiotherapy to help him walk; speech and language therapy to help him tone the muscles in his face and learn to talk again; occupational therapy to learn how to regain his independence; and clinical psychology to assess his memory and ability to think. He praised the staff for their help, but said he felt he had to push himself more than they expected him to in order to recover' “I couldn’t fault anyone because they were doing everything they could, but to me, I had to do more”. The first time he walked unaided he “couldn’t believe it”. 
Daniel had to have a titanium plate fitted in his skull. Since this operation, he has begun to have seizures. Because he had survived such a serious accident Daniel felt invincible, but he finds his seizures very distressing. He is able to tell when he is going to have one, so is able to get into a safe position. Attending support group meetings organised by Headway has reassured him, helped him to deal with his anxiety and worry less about seizures. Now he tries to “think positive rather than negative… If I have a seizure, I have a seizure, but I’ve just got to think of right now, not the future and past seizures”. 
Daniel receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which he thinks was organised for him by the staff at the rehabilitation unit. He will return to job in retail when he is ready and his occupational therapist is working with his employer to help them understand his needs. Daniel’s girlfriend, family and friends spend a lot of time with him and have looked after him throughout his recovery. He says “it was very good to know they were there”. 



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