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Headway Suffolk highlights brain injury’s hidden impact

Peter Stephenson-Wall suffered a brain injury in a cycling accident
Peter Stephenson-Wall suffered a brain injury in a cycling accident

Peter Stephenson-Wall has to carry a consultant’s letter with him to explain the hidden effects of a brain injury he suffered in a cycling accident.

Peter, 30, an IT technician from Bury St Edmunds, is cycling again and physically fit but has a weak left side finds noise tiring.

Fiona Linge suffered a cerebral aneurysm and haemorrhage
Fiona Linge suffered a cerebral aneurysm and haemorrhage

He explained: “I say things to people and they don’t understand because it’s not seen,

“I am hyper-sensitive to sounds because the frontal lobes don’t filter the sounds out, so the brain has to process them, causing sensory overload, which adds to the chronic fatigue.

“So if the radio is on in the background I may think nothing of it but half an hour to an hour later I will be exhausted.”

Peter was 23 when he came off his bike at about 30mph. He was wearing a helmet but suffered brain and internal damage through deceleration and was in Addenbrooke’s Hospital for 84 days.

His daily problems are why Bury based charity Headway Suffolk has this week launched its A New Me campaign as part of Action for Brain Injury Week.

It found 74 per cent of brain injury survivors feel like ‘a new person’ after their injury and 77 per cent feel friends and family do not understand the effects of their injury.

Helen Fairweather, Headway Suffolk’s chief executive, said: “People often associate brain injury with impacting cognitive or physical skills, such as memory, speech, or movement. However, it can also change personalities and our behaviours, which can have a dramatic impact on our relationships.”

Headway therapists helped Peter cope with fatigue and get back to a level of work he can cope with. The charity has also helped Fiona Linge who in June 2015, suffered a cerebral aneurysm and haemorrhage weeks after her 50th birthday.

The higher level teaching assistant at Diamond Academy in Thetford collapsed at work and spent three months in Addenbrooke’s followed by three months rehabilitation in Colman Hospital, Norwich. She also has fatigue problems.

Fiona said: “I needed Headway’s help with my memory and thinking, as well as socialskills. I was really sociable before but now I get worried and anxious of things, like getting in a taxi.

“I’m now fine-tuning my recovery. I’m trying to multi-task, like walking and talking at the same time.”

For more on Headway’s campaign, including advice on supporting survivors, visit www.anewme.org.uk

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