Try to imagine what it must be like for someone going about their normal life to suddenly open their eyes after being in a coma for weeks or even months!
You can’t speak, you can’t move, you don’t know where you are, how you got here, and sometimes not even who you are. You are trapped inside a battered and broken body, and can’t respond to your loved one’s pleas or doctor’s questions. The thought is frightening isn’t it? But in reality, this is the plight for tens of thousands of men, women and children across this country every year who suffer an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) from incidents such as road accidents, stroke, alcohol or drug-related cell damage, hypoxic episodes such as near drowning, or cardiac arrest.
Brain injury has a low profile, and could be said to be the most hidden of all disabilities. Is it the social stigma attached? Or just a lack of understanding? On top of the more obvious physical and cognitive challenges, one of the most frustrating aspects of ABI is that it can leave you with little social contact, support, activity – all the things that make life worthwhile! This is why we need to dramatically increase community awareness! As a people that cares about those less fortunate, we desperately need to optimise the opportunities for social and economic inclusion, and develop acceptance and understanding of the valuable contribution people with an ABI can still make in our society, if given the chance.
Recovery from an ABI is not so different from Olympic athletes training six hours a day, and working through daily pain, family sacrifice and financial strain for years on end. But people with an ABI are not so fortunate in receiving the support an Olympic athlete gets. Evidence now suggests that recovery can take place five years or more out from an accident or incident, but this requires intensive rehabilitation, a self-drive like no other, and most of all, family and community support. How do I know this? My son is a walking, talking message of what persistence and sheer determination can achieve. His story of strength and courage to recover after a horrific accident has been described by many as truly inspirational.