Brain and Spinal Injuries

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Louis Theroux Documentary 'A Different Brain' Touches Hearts

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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Throngs of people took to Twitter on Sunday, 15th May to express their appreciation for Louis Theroux’s latest documentary on people living with the long-term effects of a brain injury.

Fans were not the only ones impressed.  A review featured in The Telegraph stated that, “Theroux offered a poignant portrait of people “caught between old and new selves.”

Touching and sensitive, the documentary captured both the suffering and optimism of brain injury victims and their loved ones, trying to adjust to their new, sometimes uncertain future.

“The person I was died the day I fell off the horse”

In scenes that were sometimes unbearably raw and honest, Theroux met four patients who were at different stages of their rehabilitation.  Each one bravely demonstrated how they and their families had adjusted to the long-term consequences caused by traumatic brain injury.

One of the most tragic stories came from Amanda, a mother of two who, following a riding accident, had returned to the family home where she insisted on having a locked annexe so she could spend time away from her husband and children when needed. As she told Theroux, flatly: “The person he married died the day I fell off that horse. I am what’s left and I don’t think I’m enough.”  Her husband said that the emotional changes in his wife’s personality were the hardest to deal with, and Amanda added that she had, “lost her squishy bits”, meaning the softer side of her character.  Both parents felt this had greatly affected Amanda’s ability to relate to her children.

Why a person’s character can change after a brain injury

The extent to which a person’s behaviour and/or personality changes following a brain injury depends on what part of the brain sustained damage.  For example, the neurons in the hippocampus play a role in managing emotions and memories.  A brain injury in this part of the brain can cause amnesia or emotional problems such as uncontrollable rage or depression.  The temporal lobes control aspects of a person’s intellect and long-term memory.  An injury to this area can cause difficulty in concentration and focus as well as an inability to locate and identify objects.

The long road to recovery

It is impossible to predict how long recovery from a traumatic head injury will take.  Some people require 24-hour care for the rest of their lives, others return to life as normal within a few months.

The patients featured in Theroux’s documentary had all received, or had previously received, treatment at one of the many brain injury rehabilitation centres throughout the country. 

These centres provide inpatient care, for victims of a brain injury who are not ready to leave hospital, and outpatient and community rehabilitation.  Community rehabilitation includes providing residential transitional living units. Here people can develop their independent living skills so that they may be able to live on their own in the future.

The effect of a brain injury on the victim’s family

The impact of a brain injury on the family of the victim is often forgotten.  Spouses, children, and parents can be left trying to relate to someone who is a complete stranger in all but appearance.  What’s worse, the victim often has no idea that they have changed, or that aspects of their behaviour, such as angry outbursts, cause distress to those around them.

The right to compensation

A brain injury can turn both the victim’s and their family’s life upside down.  If the cause of the injury was due to someone else’s negligence, then a claim for compensation can be made by the victim.  A compensation payment can aide to the cost of recovery, which can include anything from in-home nursing care to renovating a property to accommodate the needs of the victim.

If you have suffered a brain injury, receiving compensation can make a major difference to the quality of you and your family’s life as you adjust to a new future.

At IBB, our personal injury team, led by Malcolm Underhill, accredited brain injury solicitor, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim following a brain injury. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at or fill in our contact form.  Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence. 

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