Living with someone who has a brain injury

28 May 2019

To receive a knock on the door from a policeman is one of life’s most terrifying events and unfortunately, on the morning of 10 January 2018, this is exactly what happened to S. At around 10am, S answered the door of her home to be greeted by a policeman who told her that they suspected her son, M, had been involved in a serious road traffic collision. The policemen told S that whilst no formal identification had taken place, they had found M’s bank card on the injured person and as S knew M had been on his way to work on his motorbike, S knew it must have been him.

S and her daughter were taken to St George’s Hospital on blue lights by the policeman, there was not even time to collect her husband who was working nearby. When all the family arrived at the hospital, they were told that M was in a serious condition and had sustained, amongst other injuries, a brain injury. M’s inpatient stay at the hospital was a stressful and frightening time for the whole family. Due to M’s ongoing issues, S took on the role of M’s Litigation Friend.

S has since said “that her biggest worry when M was in hospital is what would his future look like? When he first came out of ITU, he was doubly incontinent, he was not able to walk, his memory was terrible and he often acted out of character. I feared whether or not he would be able to walk again, how much care and assistance he would need and if he would ever be able to live independently”.

A number of months have passed since M was discharged from St George’s and whilst his rehabilitation remains ongoing, S and the rest of the family continue to provide him with care and assistance. At present, M’s rehabilitation consists of neuropsychology, physiotherapy/ personal training and neuro occupational therapy.

The daily challenges of living with M and his brain injury continue and S has said “The hardest part of living with M’s brain injury are the daily psychological and emotional battles. I feel both anger and sadness that his day to day life has changed”. He currently has no routine; his week is dependent upon which therapist he is seeing on what day. He relies upon a taxi service to take him from A to B. He no longer has a girlfriend. He spends more time in his bedroom isolated.

I feel guilt because we are so lucky, he is still alive and what right do I have to moan? I feel frustration as people only see the physical side of M and do not see the extreme fatigue he suffers and how often he needs to sleep and how limiting this is. I feel possessive as M is my responsibility and it is my job to advocate for him in the way I did when he was a minor. I feel worry as to how M copes, his decisions and actions he may take when we are not around. Most of all, I fear for his future.

M’s accident has had an impact on the whole of the family. "I know M’s sisters feel left out as they call him ‘Princess’. My husband is emotionally and physically neglected. His comments, worries and arguments are often met with objection and excuse. My work as a nurse is very important to me but I must put M’s rehabilitation as my priority. My own health has also been affected as a result and I have suffered 12 months of depression and anxiety which have resulted in prescription medications.

Tim Kirfield, Associate at Barlow Robbins comments:

"when conducting a claim on behalf of someone who has a brain injury, it is very important to ensure that the family are afforded the same level of support as the injured person. There will be occasions whereby the Litigation Friend, sibling or another member of the family requires some form of treatment and often, the family would benefit from education relating to living with someone with a brain injury. The family are such an integral part of the injured person’s rehabilitation and therefore, we look to support and encourage them as much as we can."
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