In my opinion: Victims of brain injury need our support

FORGETTING your mum's birthday or where you've put your car keys.

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Remembering how to send an e-mail or where to catch the bus home.

These are a few of the difficulties people who have suffered brain injury face on a daily basis - simple things that those who haven't often take for granted.

Along with memory problems, many people face months or years feeling isolated and lost, as if they have been sucked into a black hole.

Many have suffered traumatic accidents, had strokes, or have underlying inherited conditions which can lead to haemorrhage, causing weeks or months of hospital treatment and years of difficulty on the long road back to normality.

Services do exist to help those unfortunate enough to go through this, such as Momentum - Glasgow's only vocational rehabilitation programme for people with brain injury.

I had never heard of the service until two months ago, when I met a confident young man.

He told me how he had developed encephalitis and after getting out of hospital he struggled with anxiety and depression until he started going to Momentum.

Six months before I met him, he said he would have been unrecognisable if it were not for the service, which is now due to shut down after funding was cut.

It is run by a team of six enthusiastic, caring staff, who help a small group get their confidence back and get ready to return to work.

To me, the reasons for axing the programme are at best unsympathetic and, at worst, simply incorrect.

Anyone who goes to the centre and spends just 10 minutes with the people who currently use it, would realise how important and necessary this service is.

As a reporter I come across a lot of emotional stories every day but I felt very upset hearing what these people had been through when I visited.

Some had been in accidents, some had underlying conditions which decided to come to a head later in life.

All of them had been stopped in their tracks and the only thing preventing them from staying at home all day was the thought of seeing their friends and learning something new.

Imagine suffering for months in hospital after such a trauma and returning home a shadow of yourself, not having anywhere or anyone to turn to for help.

That is what the future looks like for the next generation of brain injury sufferers and it comes down to measuring quality of life.

You can't tick a box when someone says they are more confident, or when they finally remember how to use public transport again.

A little more empathy and common sense could go a long way, because we never know when any of us might need help in the future.


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