Brain injury survivors ‘fear for future’ due to lost rehab

Headway - The Brain Injury Association

Headway – the brain injury association has produced a survey-led report which explores the impact of lockdown on those affected by brain injury, highlighting the unique and complex challenges both survivors and their families face.

More than half of brain injury survivors have lost access to rehabilitation services as a result of lockdown measures and now fear for their futures, according to the study, which surveyed 1,140 people.

Early rehabilitation following brain injury can be crucial in helping survivors to regain a degree of independence and relearn lost skills, including walking and talking. But 57% of those who sustained their injuries within the past two years say their access to specialist treatment has been negatively impacted.

A further 64% of those living with the long-term effects of brain injury reported a deterioration in their mental health as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of COVID-19, while almost two thirds say they now fear for their futures.

The key findings revealed:

  • 57% of people who sustained a brain injury within the past two years reported that their rehabilitation has been negatively impacted
  • Two thirds of respondents reported a negative impact on their psychological wellbeing
  • 62% of respondents fear for their future
  • 50% have lost access to vital support that helps them to cope
  • 42% say their rehabilitation has been negatively impacted

Headway says that the stark findings highlight the importance of ensuring those affected by brain injury are provided with appropriate physical, psychological and social rehabilitation and support.

Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, said:

“The results of this study are deeply concerning. The first two years following a brain injury are very important in terms of a patient’s long-term prognosis and any delay to receiving specialist rehabilitation can impact their ability to lead an independent life in the future.

Local Headway groups and branches across the UK are going to extraordinary lengths to ensure help remains available to vulnerable individuals and families during the lockdown. Without this help, the figures reported in our study would no doubt have been much worse.

However, with local authorities under increasing financial pressure, local charities are facing an uphill battle to survive, exacerbating survivors’ fears for the future.

Unless the government provides local authorities with adequate funding for community-based rehabilitation services, thousands of brain injury survivors and carers will either be left without support or be forced to rely on more costly state-funded care.”

Jane’s story

For the past five years, 52-year-old Jane Hallard from Gloucester has relied on her local Headway group to help her rebuild her life following a subarachnoid haemorrhage in 2015.

Jane was helping her son to clean his car when she felt like her head had been hit with a “sledge-hammer”. After collapsing, Jane was rushed to hospital where she underwent life-saving surgery before spending the next eight weeks in hospital.

The resultant brain injury changed every aspect of her life, leaving her with chronic cognitive fatigue and mental health challenges. It also led to the collapse of her marriage.

“Without the support of my local Headway I wouldn’t be able to get through each week,” said Jane. “In fact, without their support, I wouldn’t be here at all.

COVID-19 has exacerbated my feelings of anxiety and I have struggled to cope with the changes to my routine, but Headway has always been there when I needed them, and their support has been crucial over the past 12 weeks.

I can’t bear to imagine a world without Headway in it and I really fear for my future if I can no longer access their specialist support.

It is difficult to put into words how integral they have been to my life over the past five years and how important they are to my future.

Lockdown has made the world with a brain injury an even lonelier place, but Headway has ensured that I have always felt supported and they have remained by my side, every step of the way.

Things came to a head a couple of weeks ago when I found myself sitting in my car at 2am. I had hit an all-time low, felt completely worthless and in that moment, I just wanted to end it all.

I glanced back at my house and I saw my dog peering out of the window. Seeing his face stopped me in my tracks and the realisation of what I was about to do knocked me sideways.

The very next morning I called my local Headway and with their support, I was able to talk to a GP and get the medication I need. They have been calling me every week and I really look forward to their phone calls. It is such a relief to have someone to offload to, who you can speak to without judgement and who fully understands your injury.”

Read the full report on Headway’s website by following the link and see what other work they are supporting.

Affiniti passionately support the work Headway undertakes for all people with brain injuries.

We are able to assist with a rehabilitation loan for those pursuing a legal claim for their injuries. If you or your firm are instructed on these types of claims and want to discuss how to fund these please get in touch.

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