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Brain injury: the impacts, both seen and unseen

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Brain injury can be life-changing for the sufferer and their families. Many impacts are obvious but others are unseen.

Shoosmiths supports a number of clients who have suffered a brain injury though medical negligence and other accidents. Amy Greaves, a medical negligence specialist in our Birmingham office, considers the impact of brain injuries on our clients.

Types of brain injury

There are a number of different types of brain injury that our clients may suffer from, including:

  • Acquired brain injury – This covers all situations where a brain injury has occurred after the client’s birth and can include for example, a stroke, brain haemorrhage, encephalitis, fall or road traffic accident.
  • Traumatic brain injury – This covers all situations where a head injury has caused an injury to the brain and can include for example road traffic accidents, falls and accidents at work.
  • Hypoxic brain injury – This covers, for example, a situation where a lack of oxygen at or around the time of birth.

More information about types of brain injury can be found on our specialist brain injury information pages.

Physical impact of a brain injury

Brain injuries can have a wide-ranging impact on a person physically, depending upon the extent of damage. These can often be obvious to the untrained observer, such as mobility difficulties, loss of balance and co-ordination, and reduced sight, hearing or speech.

However, physical symptoms can be more subtle and can include fatigue, difficulties swallowing and reduced bladder or bowel function.

All of these impact on a client’s ability to manage their day-to-day activities and often require additional support.

Our experience shows that these difficulties are more readily understood by schools, employers and services who provide support for those with physical difficulties e.g., local authorities. However, even though these difficulties are more understood, the support provided is often inadequate to fully give clients their independence back.

Unseen impact of a brain injury

Brain injuries also have an impact on a person that are not immediately obvious. This can include a vulnerability in dealing with new people, an inability to organise and keep appointments, difficulty in understanding new words and a lack of concentration.

These more subtle injuries, particularly for those with no mobility or speech difficulties, can often be missed or misdiagnosed. For example, a child who has suffered a brain injury who suffers with fatigue and has difficulties processing information may be considered disruptive in lessons, rather than the behaviour being linked to a brain injury. An adult who is no longer able to organise and keep appointments may miss out on job opportunities due to a perceived lack of concentration.

How can we help?

If a brain injury has been caused by medical negligence or an accident we can assist you in pursuing a claim. The purpose of compensation is to put a client back in the position they would have been in, had the negligence not occurred. This gives clients the opportunity to lead as independent lives as possible.
We work closely with the charities Child Brain Injury Trust and Headway which gives us a wider understanding of the impact brain injuries have on our clients as well as dealing with the legal aspects of a claim.

Clients with a brain injury include James Robshaw, represented by Denise Stephens, partner who specialises in brain injury cases, based in our Reading office. James suffered cerebral palsy following delays during his birth. James cannot speak, dress or feed himself (without assistance of a machine) and must use a wheelchair. His intellect has remained intact and he communicates through sophisticated eye-gaze equipment. He will however be dependent on others to enable him to carry out the most routine daily tasks for the rest of his life.

A video about the case can be seen here:

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Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2021

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