May 23 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Reporter Anna Dubuis will be joining thousands of people taking part in this year’s Virgin London Marathon on April 21, and will be raising money for Headway, the brain injury association. In the run-up to the day, she’ll be blogging about her training and the build-up to the race. This week, Anna talks about why she has chosen to raise money for Headway.
When I tell people that I am running the London Marathon for Headway, the name doesn’t immediately ring any bells.
They may be fortunate enough not to have experienced brain injury, either to themselves or someone they know.
But for those whose lives are affected, the charity’s support and expert advice is an invaluable complement to medical treatment.
It’s about helping people to adapt to the changes in their physical condition, to paralysis, poor balance, sensory speech difficulties or the loss of senses.
It’s about offering coping strategies to deal with the cognitive impacts, the memory loss, reduced concentration span, the language loss and visual impairments.
And it’s about managing the emotional effects, the anger, the depression, mood swings and anxiety that can occur.
For my friend who was left paraplegic after hitting her head in a rollerskating fall, the charity was there to help her, her family and her friends to cope and to get her as far on the road to recovery as possible.
The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and how an injury is going to affect each individual brain is hugely variable. For patients, friends and family, they are suddenly thrown into the unknown.
That’s why the Headway Acute Trauma Support (HATS) project was set up.
During the early days of an acute brain injury, specialist nurses are available to provide emotional and practical support to families.
They can help families to understand medical terminology and the hospital system, advise on benefits and legal issues, answer any questions about brain injuries, and attend any medical meetings if the family so wishes.
So far two HATS nurses have been hired by the charity since the project was launched in 2011: one is based in the north west of England and the other in the West Midlands.
With more recognition and more funding, more HATS nurses can start to support families in this traumatic time.
As well as emotional support, there is often a financial stress that comes with brain injuries.
Headway’s emergency fund provides grants of up to £500 to help families cope with the implications of sudden brain injury. It could cover travel and accommodation, seeing as many patients are treated in specialist units miles away from where their friends and family live. To date, more than 200 people have been helped by the fund.
This is just a snapshot of the work Headway does. Whether someone’s life is affected in the short-term or whether, as in the case of my friend, their life is eventually cut short, Headway can help to unravel the mystery of brain injury.