Brain injury could affect you or someone you love at any time and the results are devastating. Brain injury can challenge every part of you as it can affect walking, talking, thinking and feeling. It often means losing the life you once lived and the person you once were. You may no longer be able to work, you may find everyday tasks complicated and tiring.
It is estimated that across the UK there are more than 500,000 people of working age living with permanent disabilities as a result of a brain injury. Headway, via its network of more than 110 groups and branches across the UK including Headway Worcester Trust - is the national charity that works to improve life after brain injury which can be caused by tumours, strokes or haemorrhaging. However, the most common cause of brain injury is caused by trauma to the brain where the brain is damaged as a result of a severe jolt or blow. Obvious examples are car or motor cycle accidents, fights or even sports injuries, but any impact can cause brain injury.
"Brain injury can ruin lives and it is vitally important that there is greater understanding in society of its impact," said Alan Purchon, Director of Headway Worcester Trust Ltd, based at The Mill in Barbourne.
"We help people on a daily basis to rebuild their lives that have been shattered by their brain injury. At our day opportunities facility here at The Mill, we offer rehabilitation services to help people relearn crucial life skills. These can range from walking and talking through to social integration and practical skills like using a computer.
"We also provide emotional support to the families of our service users. A brain injury can not only affect the life of the person sustaining it, but also the lives of his or her loved ones. The joy of seeing someone survive a car crash and wake from a coma can often be replaced by sadness and confusion about why they are now a completely different person with a new personality. There is also a huge emotional and physical burden on families looking after those with brain injuries and we provide help to ease that pressure.
"By creating links with sports clubs like the Worcester Warriors for their European game, we are able to spread the word about brain injury," Added Alan Purchon, Director of Headway Worcester Trust Ltd.
"Too many people are battling on their own with the effects of brain injury when they could be calling on the services of organisations like Headway to help them."
Headway Worcester Trust runs a day opportunities in a custom-built facility in which the clients can relax and spend their day. The emphasis is on social interaction and there are numerous activities that take place in which the clients are encouraged to take part."
The aim of the day facility is to provide an environment where the clients can feel at ease and spend their time participating in many activities all of which are geared to encouraging them to socialise and build up their social skills.
Headway Worcester Trust also runs a café and bookshop at Lowesmoor in the city, with service users working alongside the charity's staff, helping them to relearn the skills they need to potentially return to paid employment in the future.
Many brain injury survivors feel that there are concerning levels of prejudice against them ranging from social rejection and ridicule through to discrimination from statutory services such as benefits and social care. Even family and friends of brain injury survivors have difficulty understanding the complex nature of their loved one's disability.
Unlike many disabilities the effects of brain injury are often hard to see therefore brain injury is frequently referred to as a hidden disability. It may be that a person with a brain injury bares no physical scars yet they struggle with tasks they once managed with ease.
"We want to use Action for Brain Injury Week to help educate people about brain injury and encourage them to support those who maybe need a little bit of help with everyday things we take for granted," said Peter McCabe, chief Executive of Headway.
"The next time you meet someone who appears a little bit different, please take the time to think that maybe they have a brain injury and therefore need your help."
The charity also has four housing complexes whereby service users can work towards independence, in a carefully monitored and supportive setting. Headway also has an outreach team that works with people across Worcester, Evesham, Pershore, Malvern and Droitwich to provide support to enable those clients to live in the community.
For more information on brain injury or Headway - the brain injury association - visit the stand in the clubhouse bar on matchday or visit http://www.headway.org.uk/ or http://www.headwayworcestertrust.com/. Alternatively, you can call the National Helpline on 0808 800 2244 with any question you may have about brain injury.
Headway Worcester Trust Ltd offers a variety of services for brain injury survivors and their families in the Worcester area - for more information call 01905 729729 or visit http://www.headwayworcestertrust.com/