At the start of this year, no one could have envisaged what was going to unfold. We did not know what the impact of COVID-19 would have on all our lives or will continue to have long into the future. When our lives are affected in this way we realise, more than ever, how a moment in time can change everything and how important it is to make every moment count.
For Sophie, it only took a brief moment for everything to change. A stumble and fall that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and left her fighting for her life. In February 2017, she was out with friends and stumbled and fell, hitting her head on a concrete floor. She remembers being with friends, with blood coming from her head. Then nothing until she woke up in a specialist neurological care unit several days later.
“The doctors were shocked at the severity of the damage to my head”
The fall had caused bleeding between the brain and the skull. In this enclosed space of the skull, the blood had nowhere to go and accumulated, forming a subdural haematoma. Left untreated, the blood would have continued to accumulate, putting pressure on the brain and potentially causing irreversible damage.
“I had three subdural haematomas and doctors did not expect me to survive.”
Remarkably, after only two weeks in hospital, Sophie was ready to be discharged. But, a few weeks later, Sophie awoke one morning and her vision had completely gone. She was terrified. Although her sight returned after 20 seconds or so, the same thing happened the next morning... and the next.
Sophie was diagnosed with papilloedema – a swelling of the optic nerve and a sign of increased intracranial pressure. She underwent twice-daily lumbar punctures to drain the fluid from her brain and relieve the pressure in her head. Sophie was put on medication to control her intra cranial pressure and, after a few months, the visual disturbances stopped.
“It is only because of neurological research that doctors were able to help me survive and recover.”
Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in peopled aged one to 40 in the UK. Many survivors are left severely disabled and need long-term rehabilitation to maximise function, independence and quality of life. Research helps people live better, for longer.
This Christmas, please, can you help fund more life-saving research?
Whilst Sophie was able to resume normal life, two problems persisted: memory loss and loss of her senses of smell and taste, known as anosmia. She was told that these problems would be a permanent consequence of the damage to her brain.
“When I left hospital, I made a promise to myself that I would make the most of every opportunity that came my way, and never focus on the negatives the injury had brought me.”
In April 2019, just two years after her injury, Sophie ran the Virgin London Marathon raising an incredible £5,600.
“I set myself a goal to run the London Marathon for Brain Research UK. Focusing on training and raising funds enabled me to leave behind the trauma of my brain injury. Raising funds for research that would change lives was the best feeling I’d ever felt.”
These funds are already being put to good use, including at the University of Cambridge where a team, funded by Brain Research UK, is researching how to improve outcomes for brain-injured patients.
Please can you help fund more life-changing research this Christmas?
Neurological research is essential if we are to better understand, diagnose and develop new treatments for those living with a neurological disorder and to give hope for the future to millions across the UK. Please help, your support can help make a world of difference.