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Coronavirus and acquired brain injury

Staying safe in difficult times

Everyone, without exception, is having a hard time at the moment. Whether you are the heir to the throne or the Prime Minister, it makes no difference. All men and women are equal when confronting coronavirus.

There are some who are finding it more difficult than others, for example those already in poor health, the elderly and the vulnerable. Amongst those groups experiencing particular hardship are individuals with an acquired brain injury (ABI).

The extent to which they are at risk may reflect the extent of their injury, which in turn may affect their social circumstances. For those with the most severe injuries who have a high level of nursing care, they may already be particularly vulnerable to respiratory illness. Day to day life may depend upon the presence of nurses and carers, most of whom are currently still willing and able to carry out their vital work. It is a time of anxiety for them and their families.

Others may have mobility and be at no greater risk in terms of succumbing to COVID-19 than anyone else in the population, but still face immense difficulties. If the injury has resulted in cognitive deficiencies, understanding the need to isolate may prove problematic. Frontal lobe issues may mean that even if there is a conceptual understanding of the virus and its effects, the need to adjust behaviours and adhere to rules and regulations is more challenging. Frustration, often not far from the surface, may well erupt if people are confined to their homes for long periods.

For those whose families are unable to care for them and who rely on lighter touch support packages, the loss of assistance with shopping, cooking and genuine social isolation put them at greater risk than the remainder of the population.

And sad to say, even in these difficult times, scammers are still prepared to prey on the vulnerable, with novel opportunities to do so now arising.

Headway UK is an invaluable source of up to date information for those with an ABI and their families. They are doing all they can to continue their services.

In the South West, Headway Devon has been obliged to suspend all day centre operations, but the majority of outreach visits to clients in the community are continuing, providing vital support to people in their own homes. Some visits have been suspended, in some case due to staff self-isolation. In other cases clients with ABI are self-isolating and in each case, new ways of delivering the service are being explored. Staff are working round the clock, often at great personal cost, to ensure clients are adequately supported and those living with ABI are as well equipped to endure this crisis as is possible. As for every part of the community, a shortage of income is proving a concern, with an expectation that support for the third sector will be next on the government’s extensive list.

Headway East London are doing some great work with their clients at the heart of the epidemic. They are facing the challenges with their usual original, creative approach, serving a huge client base in the heart of the capital and beyond.

If you need help and support for you or a family member as a result of an acquired brain injury, do check out the resources provided by Headway. If you are having difficulty making contact with them, our experienced brain injury lawyers at Clarke Willmott can signpost you to the nearest available service.


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