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24 May 2024 | Comment | Article by Gary Herbert

ABI Week | Surviving a brain injury

At the start of Action For Brain Injury (ABI) Week 2024, Gary Herbert, Partner in our Serious Injury department, reflects on the lasting impact of brain injury and how a number of his clients have rebuilt their lives post brain injury.

 “I have lived two lives – the life before the brain injury and the life since”

One of my clients said that to me once, and it stuck with me.  The thing about a brain injury is that it doesn’t just interrupt your life, but it can change who you are.  It can change how others see you, and how you see yourself.  Imagine the favourite qualities you see in yourself, what you pride yourself on, what you feel defines who you are.  Then imagine suddenly losing that.

A brain injury jumps into your life without warning, and you’re never again the person you were, with the future you were heading towards changed forever.

Hidden disability

Sometimes a brain injury is accompanied by physical injuries, but often they are not.  Changes in memory, concentration, decision-making and fatigue can be hard for people to understand, and continue long after people’s understanding of the ‘normal recovery period’ has gone away.  Often brain injury survivors can walk and talk and carry out all of the tasks needed to get through the day, but somehow it just doesn’t quite work – all the notes but not necessarily in the right order –as Eric Morecombe once said.  Other times, the anger and frustration is unintentionally taken out on loved ones, and the daily battle to stop words and thoughts just tumbling out uncontrollably can be exhausting.  Living with a brain injury is a constant and daily battle.

The hardest part for many can be social interaction.  Living as adults without work can be a lonely place for many, and the cruelty of a brain injury means that often the uncontrolled reactions and behaviours have the effect of driving away those who are loved and needed the most.  Someone to talk to, to make you feel listened to and understood is invaluable, someone who can look past the brain injury and see the person behind the injury.

Brain injury survivors

For many brain injury survivors, it can be hard to end the first chapter of their lives, and to stop being the person they used to be.  So much effort and so much rehabilitation to get back to work, get back to life, get back to who they were.  The stubborn and determined resistance to get back to who they once were can drive a lot of rehabilitation gains.

However, for all survivors, the time to build a new life comes along.  As a brain injury solicitor, I have had the privilege of watching so many experienced professionals help survivors and their families building new lives for themselves.  Watching survivors find new interests and talents – from monkey sanctuaries in South Africa to snowboarding in Italy; to sculpture and painting; from zip wires over quarries to recording in a music studio and even archery and axe throwing (don’t ask!).   Life after brain injury creates far more hidden challenges to the survivors and their families, but time and again the survivors I have met have shown it can still be exciting, rewarding and fun.

The serious injury team at Hugh James specialise in supporting individuals who have suffered life changing injuries due to brain injuries.

For more information regarding the work we do at Hugh James to support individuals and families after brain injury, please contact us on 033 3016 2222 or [email protected]

Author bio

Gary Herbert


Gary Herbert is a Partner within our Personal Injury team and has dealt extensively with clients who have sustained life changing catastrophic injuries for 18 years. He specialises in acting for children and adults who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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