May 24, 2019
This week (20-24 May 2019) is Action for Brain Injury week. ABI week is organised by Headway; the leading brain injury charity in the UK.
Last year in the UK there were around 348,000 admissions to hospital with head injury; equating to approximately 1 every 3 minutes. The most common cause of head injury in England is falls; other causes can be assaults; road traffic accidents and accidents at work. Unfortunately, the number of head injuries has increased significantly over the last 10 years.
Our understanding of brain injury has increased significantly over the years. Paramedics and hospital staff are able to swiftly recognise and treat people with suspected head injuries; ensuring they get the best treatment as quickly as possible. Amazingly, 90% of people with severe head injuries who survive today would have died 35 years ago due to the advances in medical practices and specialist neuro-centres.
95% of all traumatic brain injuries are classified as minor (loss of consciousness of less than 15 minutes and post-traumatic amnesia of less than 24 hours). However, a ‘minor’ brain injury can still have devastating effects on the individual and lead to significant and persistent symptoms such as problems with memory and concentration; anxiety; irritability; low mood and fatigue.
The aim of ABI week is to highlight the issues affecting survivors of brain injury and their families. Headway adopt a theme each year to focus on. This year the theme is fatigue and the charity are running a campaign ‘Brain Drain – Wake up to Fatigue’ to raise awareness of the debilitating effects of fatigue on brain injury survivors.
On their website there is an illuminating piece from a young woman who sustained a brain injury following a fall in her shower. She describes how the simplest tasks and activities which she could do without thinking before her injury; such as making a cup of tea; can now seem impossible due to the level of fatigue she experiences. She describes it as feeling as if ‘the battery is dead’.
Headway work tirelessly to support those affected by brain injury and to assist them in achieving the best quality of life. They have over 120 groups and branches in the UK offering a huge range of services and providing practical information and support. Their website offers a wealth of information and their award-winning publications and factsheets are accessible and easy to understand.
Headway run a 24-hour helpline providing advice and support to those in crisis or who have questions or worries. They took over 10,000 calls in 2018. They also provide an Emergency Fund providing practical support for those suffering financial difficulties as a result of brain injury; particularly in the acute early stages.
Through the Headway Acute Trauma Support, a number of specialist nurses work in neuro-centres in the UK to provide support to families affected by brain injury which is an invaluable resource as they struggle to come to terms with what has happened to their family member.
The charity also focuses on supporting survivors of brain injury in the community. They work with the police, CPS and the NHS to raise awareness of the issues relating to brain injury and the difficulties those affected may face when interacting with those around them (the Justice Project).
As part of the Justice Project, Headway introduced the Brain Injury Identity Card; a simple but effective method of enabling brain injury survivors to feel more confident when accessing the community and giving them greater independence.
Headway also work to reduce the number of brain injuries by focusing on the importance of wearing cycle helmets and raising awareness of the risk of head injury and concussion in sport (If in Doubt – Sit it Out).
I recently was lucky to have the opportunity to visit Headway’s Head Office in Nottingham and to meet some of the people who are so passionate and totally committed to their work.
Spencers Solicitors are proud to support Headway and we as a firm will be taking part in #HatsforHeadway on Friday 24 May; the culmination of ABI week. We are holding a raffle and a bake sale with all funds raised to be donated to the local branch of Headway.
This year Headway celebrates it’s 40th birthday and to mark this they are holding a series of special events. Two of Spencers Solicitors intrepid staff; Jayne and Lynn have signed up to take part in ‘Go Wild for Headway’; a crazy weekend of abseiling; waterfall jumping and zip wires in the Lake District to raise vital funds to enable Headway to keep on doing their amazing work. Anyone wishing to support our brave volunteers can donate through the following link - https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LynnCollins6.