The following case studies give you some idea about the type of problems our clients experience, how they obtained their brain injury and in some cases how they’re working to overcome it. We hope this will give you an insight into our work and the reasons why brain injury is such a complex condition with which to deal.

Case study 1 – Stan

On 4 August 2007, self-employed builder Stan was helping a friend fix the guttering on his house. Happily married Stan was rushing to complete the job as he and his wife, Sandra, were planning on going out that evening to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary.

Unfortunately, those plans had to be abandoned as Stan had an accident that nearly cost him his life. Stan, who was standing on top on the porch, moved towards the ladder to make his way down to the ground when he caught his foot on the guttering. He fell to the ground, landing on his head.

To the surprise of those who witnessed the accident, Stan immediately got up and said: “It’s OK, I’m alright.” The next thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital bed, two weeks later.

Stan had fractured his skull, broken his arm, shoulder and wrist, which had to be fitted with a titanium plate. He also broke two ribs. Stan was placed in an induced coma to ease the swelling of his brain, with his family told to expect the worst. He remained in the coma for two weeks and was in hospital for three months, where he received excellent support from the Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit.

Three years on, Stan is rebuilding his life with the help of Headway Bristol, which he has attended since January 2008, and the constant love and support of Sandra and their two adult daughters, of whom he says he ‘would be lost without’. Despite his long-term memory remaining unaffected, Stan’s short-term memory was severely damaged. He also suffers from fatigue issues and his balance problems mean he often has to walk with a stick.

“I was one of those people who thought ‘it will never happen to me’,” said Stan. “After all, I was always very careful and sensible. But I was wrong. An accident can happen to anyone at any time.

“My accident happened on what was a relatively simple job. As I was self employed, I didn’t have a foreman telling me to wear a helmet and I took the decision not to. In fact, my helmet was locked in my car at the time of my accident. We’ll never know what the outcome would have been had I been wearing my helmet, but I have learned the hard way that you can never be too cautious when it comes to safety.

“My life, and the lives of my family, changed forever that day. Although I’m happy enough with life, I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through what my family and I have.

“To anyone working in the building trade or any form of industry I would like to say please don’t think it will never happen to you; I’m living proof that it might.

“If you should be wearing a helmet – wear it. Don’t cut corners on even the simplest of jobs and never use a ladder when you can use scaffolding.”

Case study 2 – Julie’s story

In 2005 Julie, then in her early forties and a busy wife and mother to three girls, suffered the brain haemorrhage that changed her life.  She outlines in her own words what coming to Headway Bristol means for her.

“Standing here I probably don’t look like a person with a brain injury. However, I’m not the same person I was 6 years ago when I suffered my brain injury or indeed 2 years ago before I started attending here at Headway House.

“I can remember my very first day at Headway thinking to myself, what on earth I am doing here and being absolutely terrified. I didn’t say a word all day and cried all the way home. It took me a long time to settle in but with the help and support provided by the staff and other service users I have made slow but steady progress. I now know that if I have a problem I can ask and they will help me sort it out. I have good days and bad days but thanks to Headway my life has slowly become better, not just for me but also for all those close to me.

“For me one of the best things about attending Headway is mixing with other people who understand and if I’m having a bad day then it doesn’t matter.

“A common problem with head injury is that you are no longer the person you once were and it can be very difficult coming to terms with and accepting the person you are now. My youngest child was only 6 when I suffered my brain injury and says that she doesn’t know me any other way. However, I know that I drive my older children and husband nuts at times but they can also drive me nuts too. I believe that if it wasn’t for the help and support provided by Headway and the other health professionals in helping me accept my new personality, the outcome could have been considerably different.

“For me attending Headway has and continues to build on my self confidence and has given me a more positive outlook on what is an ongoing everyday struggle.”


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