Action for Brain Injury Week is an awareness week that takes place between the 17th and the 23rd of May and aims to raise awareness of brain injuries, as well as giving a voice to those affected by them. Leading brain injury charities Headway the Brain Injury Association and the Child Brain Injury Trust have come together to release this year’s campaign focussing on social isolation after brain injury, which has become an increasing problem, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
What is an Acquired Brain Injury?
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is any injury to the brain which has occurred following birth. It includes Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), for example caused by a road traffic collision, fall or assault, and non-Traumatic Brain Injuries related to other medical conditions including encephalitis, meningitis, stroke, substance abuse, brain tumour and oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) resulting from a cardiac arrest or other causes.
Much of the published data relates to Traumatic Brain Injury which means that the figures quoted in the diagram (left) underestimate the number of people in the UK with an Acquired Brain Injury. However even just based on the number of Traumatic Brain Injuries, there are an estimated 1.3 million people living in the UK with a Traumatic Brain Injury who have related disabilities and therefore an underlying long-term health condition. More information can be seen on the infographic at the bottom of the page.
Social Isolation and Brain Injury
Social isolation is something which is a concern amongst those with a brain injury. It has been described as a common problem among Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivors. Due to physical, cognitive and behavioural changes, survivors become less socially active and experience a marked decrease in their number of friends and it can also affect family relationships.
The ‘new me’ that many people experience after brain injury can be difficult for family and friends to accept, and can sometimes lead to them slowly dropping away over time. The social isolation that can be felt by many individuals with a brain injury has only been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 Pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
Loneliness and Lockdown
Previous research by Headway the Brain Injury Association has shown that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic over 70% of brain injury survivors had seen a deterioration in their social life following brain injury, with a similar percentage feeling that people in their lives did not understand the effects of their brain injury.
The lockdowns throughout the UK have put a strain on many people’s relationships with family and friends. Therefore, Headway have teamed up with the University of Sunderland to undertake a new piece of research led by Dr Stephen Dunne, which aims to explore how people cope with and experience loneliness during lockdown. The research will compare the experiences of people with brain injuries and those without to see whether there are any differences in the way that brain injury survivors have coped through periods of lockdown and what factors are related to this.
Furthermore, more than half of brain injury survivors have lost access to rehabilitation services as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown which has had a major impact on their recovery. Early rehabilitation for those who have suffered a brain injury is crucial in helping individuals regain independence and ensure they have the best chances for recovery. Due to the effects of the lockdown restrictions, it is believed that 57% of people who sustained a brain injury in the last two years have been negatively impacted in terms of access to rehabilitation during the pandemic.
For the majority of the UK over the past 18 months, being in lockdown and feeling isolated from family and friends has given us a glimpse into the day to day lives of those who have suffered brain injuries, so it is vital that now more than ever we do all we can to raise awareness and help those who need it most.
How You Can Help
You can get involved with the campaign by sharing Headway UK infographics, images, videos and posts on your social media using the following hashtags: -
To access the Headway campaign please visit their section. To access the Child Brain Injury Trust campaign please visit their get involved section
How Burnetts Can Help
There are many possible causes of brain injuries such as a difficult birth, a fall, a blow to the head, a stroke or a brain infection. In these instances, a sufferer may wish to pursue a civil legal action due to the criminal act, negligence or medical negligence of another.
Our specialist Medical Negligence and Serious Injury (MNSI) team works collaboratively alongside the best accredited experts and barristers in this field. We are committed to providing exceptional, accessible legal advice, while always ensuring that our client’s expectations and aims are met with a genuinely caring service.
If the claim is on behalf of a protected party then our Court of Protection team will also be on hand to assist with the administration of compensation and navigating you through the entire deputyship process.
If you would like to speak to someone within our MNSI team to discuss whether you may have a serious injury or clinical negligence claim, then just call us on 01228 552222 and we’ll be happy to help.
Headway UK the Brain Injury Association is a fantastic charity that works to improve life after brain injury by providing vital support and information services to those affected. Their services include a freephone nurse-led helpline, emergency fund, informative website and award-winning publications and fact sheets, which can be obtained here.
Headway UK also supports a network of Headway Groups and branches across the country, many of which are charities in their own right. These groups and branches provide local help and support to brain injury survivors their families and carers. Many of our solicitors are actively involved in supporting these local Headway groups and branches including Headway Wearside and Headway South Cumbria.
Child Brain Injury Trust
The Child Brain Injury Trust is a leading UK-based charity which provides emotional and practical support, information and learning opportunities for families and professionals affected by childhood acquired brain injury across the UK.
It works across the UK and has a dedicated team of professional staff and volunteers who provide fantastic support and information for children and their families following brain injury. It aims to improve the quality of life of those affected by raising awareness of the impact of a brain injury on the whole family and empower those who can help through provision of education, information and support.
Further details regarding the charity and the support they provide can be found here.