Select Committee on Health Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Maivor De Young (H 57)

  Having worked and been involved with head injured people for a long time I feel compelled to write and share with you my findings. I have just completed a degree in psychology and in my research project, I conducted several interviews with people, who have suffered traumatic head injuries. The research found that their Quality of Life is much lower than people, who have had no head injury. Brain injured people found that GPs did not understand or had knowledge of their difficulties and very often did not care. Having worked at a brain injury rehabilitation unit for ten weeks I found that there is definitely not enough rehabilitation services for brain injured people. It was upsetting to see peoples' disappointment, when they were told that the waiting list for a place was long and it would be difficult to give a precise time for admission. Can you imagine what it would be like waking up every day and having no memory of what had happened and not knowing what was going on. No sense of identity/self? Having to start from the beginning again like a child. As one patient put it: "I don't know who I am—there are two persons—one before the accident and one after the accident—and they don't seem to be the same person and they don't integrate with each other". These people need a lot of help and understanding.

  1.  More rehabilitation services are definitely needed.

  2.  We have to remember that every injury is different.

  3.  It is very much a hidden "disability".

  4.  General practitioners need to have more knowledge of what various problems, other illnesses and the difficulties that a head injured person can experience after hospital and rehabilitation services are finished.

  5.  It is important that rehabilitation takes place immediately the patient is well enough to benefit from the service. It could be too late to address problems if too long a time has elapsed between injury and rehabilitation programme.

  6.  More awareness in the society about head injuries. More attention and more education in schools about the brain and how important this organ is to us and what happens if it is not looked after properly.

  7.  Every person has the right to live and lead a life that will given them the quality of life they expect.

  8.  Continue a support service after the rehabilitation is finished to both the injured and the relatives and carers.

  9.  Peoples' lives could be improved and helped if rehabilitation services were established in more places.

  The list of requirements is endless, but I feel that going on about it is not going to help the issue.

  Please, let me know if you would like more information and help from me. I feel it is a very worthwhile issue you are attending to and it could save money for the health sector in the future if more attention is paid to the problem right from the beginning.

February 2001

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