Are you suffering from a lack of motivation following a traumatic brain injury?

March 17, 2017
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As a personal injury solicitor representing survivors of traumatic brain injury, I am often told by my clients that one of the most common problems following a traumatic brain injury is a lack of motivation.  My clients will tell me that they find it difficult to initiate tasks and that without support and prompting, they may just sit at home in front of the television or lay in bed all day.  This can have a significant impact on their progress in their rehabilitation as well as their mood and psychological wellbeing.

It is important that brain injury survivors are motivated, not only to engage in their rehabilitation, but also to ensure that they are able to lead a full and varied life which includes accessing the community and where possible, returning to some form of employment or other daily activity so that they may effectively contribute to society.

Headway North London’s Befriender Scheme

It can be difficult for survivors of brain injury to motivate themselves, due to the nature of their injury.  Charities, such as Headway North London, can help to provide survivors with the vital support they need in order to return to their pre-accident position, as far as is possible, given their injury.

I am a member of Headway North London, a charity affiliated with Headway UK, and have been helping them to restart their ‘befriender’ scheme.  This is a scheme which pairs volunteers with survivors of brain injury to provide them with support and assistance following their injury.  A befriender can provide vital support to help motivate survivors of brain injury to access the community.  The role of a befriender can vary from helping a brain injury survivor to engage in interesting activities, to providing them with company and support.  Brain injury survivors can often feel isolated following their injury as their lack of motivation and initiation, taken together with other difficulties they may have, such as dizziness, headaches and tinnitus can make them reluctant to socialise within their community.  A befriender can therefore give them that helping hand and support that they need to take that first step.  There is no maximum or minimum level of support and so the befriender and brain injury survivor can work out a support system that works individually for them.

I have supported Headway for many years.  I consider that they are a fantastic charity which provides vital support for those who have suffered a brain injury, which generally is not available on the NHS.  It is also incredibly useful for me as a personal injury solicitor, specialising in accidents resulting in brain injury, to learn more about the services Headway can offer so that I can refer my clients to them, with confidence that they will receive the support that they need.

Leadership and motivation following brain injury

Headway North London holds a monthly meeting, which they invite their members to attend.  I began to attend these meetings in April last year and I have been thoroughly impressed by what I have seen.  The meetings are open and friendly and all members are encouraged to share their experiences so that other survivors may learn from them.  Members are also able to suggest content for future meetings, so if there is anything that they particularly need help with it can be covered.  This may include concerns about accessing NHS rehabilitation; how to cope with fatigue; applying for benefits under the new system or any barrier they are facing in accessing the community or getting on with their daily lives.

Every so often, Headway North London invites speakers to attend the meetings to give a talk to the members.  I attended a very interesting talk recently which looked at leadership and motivation following brain injury.  The speaker said that for a brain injury survivor, sometimes not being able to initiate activity or experiencing changes in the levels of motivation can create challenges for the person with sometimes life-limiting outcomes.  The talk was intended to provide brain injury survivors with ideas as to how they could further their journey post brain injury and improve their options moving forwards.

At the meeting, the members gave examples of when they have lacked motivation and the consequences of that for them.  It was clear to see that a lack of motivation meant that they didn’t achieve what they wanted to and that left them feeling frustrated, as this was not something that they had struggled with prior to their injury.  It was also clear to see that many members were unsure of what they could do to try and overcome this difficulty, which was having such an impact on their lives.

The speaker, whose partner had suffered a brain injury following a stroke, spoke about her experience of living and caring for someone who has suffered a brain injury and how they coped with his lack of motivation.  She spoke passionately about how to live with this difficulty.  She suggested that survivors really think about what they are passionate about and what gets them going.  They should then try to do more of what they are passionate about, if this was possible for them.  When you are lacking in motivation as a result of your injury, it can be extremely difficult to complete tasks, particularly if they do not interest you.  It is therefore important to identify those tasks or opportunities which do and to take advantage of them.  This in turn can then provide the brain injury survivor with more purpose to their day and hopefully allow them to feel empowered that they are achieving what they want to in their daily lives.

Get involved with support groups who understand what you are going through

I feel privileged to be involved with Headway North London and to assist them with the Befriender project, which I am sure is going to be a huge success in supporting survivors of brain injury.  I also find that by attending their monthly meetings, I am able to learn more about the difficulties that their members are suffering from and also ways in which they can deal with these difficulties, which I can then relate to my clients.  One of the most important parts of my role as a solicitor specialising in accidents resulting in brain injury, is helping them to recover as far as is possible and to deal with their ongoing difficulties in a way which allows them to lead a fulfilling life.  Being able to refer my clients to charities such as Headway who can offer them with support to do this in my view, is a vital part of the service I can offer my clients.  I think that anyone who has suffered a brain injury should definitely consider reaching out to their local Headway group to get specialised support from a group who understand first-hand what you are facing.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact us free of charge and in confidence on 020 3393 6704 or at PersonalInjury@boltburdonkemp.co.uk for specialist legal advice.  Alternatively, you can complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Personal Injury team will contact you.  You can find out more about the team here.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for Headway North London in order to provide support to a survivor of brain injury as part of the befriender scheme, you can contact me at stephanie.price@headwaynorthlondon.org.

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