Head Injury is the biggest cause of disability in young people in the UK and I’m on a bit of a personal mission at the moment to find out more about traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Through my online research I came across the documentary Me & My New Brain (BBC3) which follows four people at various stages of their recoveries from their traumatic brain injuries.
Our main guide was Charlie Elmore, who, at 26, was working as a snowboarding instructor in Switzerland, when a routine jump went wrong and she fell awkwardly, snapping her head back on to the hard ground. The impact rattled her brain in her skull, caused bruising and bleeding, left her in a coma, and almost killed her. She has no memory of the accident and four years on, is still dealing with the aftershock, in particular, the emotional trauma which is far more difficult to measure and treat.
In the documentary she retraces the steps of her dramatic recovery and meets other young people adjusting to life after serious brain injuries, including 19-year-old car-crash survivor Callum, avid skier Tai and fashion buyer Hannah, who has to re-learn how to walk and talk after she collapsed whilst out shopping and hit her head on the pavement. With their help, Charlie embarks on a courageous journey to improve understanding of this ‘invisible’ disability and discovers the hidden ways it affects her own life too.
These ‘invisible’ disabilities caused by brain trauma do not manifest in obvious ways. The physical recovery may be rapid and complete. It can be measured and ticked off. Within months of her accident, Charlie was not only walking, but driving and snowboarding and able to do much of what she could do before. But all of the people featured in the documentary discuss the less graspable consequences of the damage to their brains – from a sense of not being understood, to depression and anxiety, and the need for ongoing support that is not so readily provided. Charlie, for example, struggles to differentiate between some emotions, reading anger as confusion, and finding a “neutral” expression hard to register. She explained, sadly, that in the aftermath of the accident, she had hundreds of supportive messages from her friends on Facebook, but now has perhaps 10 people she feels she can turn to.
It’s a very moving and honest documentary and I’ve embedded below for you to watch.