Dr Virginia Newcombe, University of Cambridge, treats people with brain injuries and is leading a research team that aims to improve outcomes by enabling doctors to better characterise injuries. This will then guide the development of effective treatments. One of the problems in treating brain injury lies in the complexity and diversity of the injuries. The nature of the damage varies greatly between patients who have overtly similar injuries.
Our appeal this summer focuses on Scott, a remarkable young man who suffered a terrible brain injury when just 22 years old. We hope you will consider kindly giving a donation to help fund more research into brain injury, which is responsible for so much death and disability – particularly in young people.
In 2016 Scott was on his way to the gym when he was in a car crash that left him fighting for his life. With multiple bleeds on the brain and a serious leg injury, Scott was placed in a medically-induced coma at the scene before being airlifted to hospital. His injuries were so severe that his parents were warned he might never wake up.
In 2022, Scott completed the London Marathon as part of the Brain Research UK team. Another milestone on his astonishing journey to recovery.
We had pleasure meeting Scott and his parents at the Marathon. He is a remarkable young man, whose completion of the event was a truly incredible achievement. His optimism shines through, despite the difficulties that he continues to face as a result of his injury– including problems with speech and cognition.
Unfortunately these problems have meant that he has had to give up on his dream of being a teacher.
Scott feels indebted to the medical staff who saved his life that fateful day, as well as to the friends and family who have supported him on his long and arduous recovery. He also recognises the huge importance of research in saving lives and improving recovery after brain injury.
We truly cannot understand what life has lying for us around the corner, as I learnt when my life suddenly took the complete U turn it did! Thankfully the relevant research was already in place for me but as we look deeper inside the brain, it is clear we are only scratching the surface
Traumatic brain injuries, like Scott’s, are the leading cause of death and disability in people aged one to 40 years. There has been little improvement in outcomes for brain-injured patients over the past two decades. One of the problems in treating brain injury lies in the complexity and diversity of the injuries; the nature of the damage varies greatly between patients who have overtly similar head injuries.
Funds raised by Scott and fellow participants in the London Marathon have helped to fund research such as a recently awarded project led by Dr Virginia Newcombe at the University of Cambridge. Dr Newcombe’s research aims to improve outcomes for people with brain injuries by enabling doctors to better characterise brain injuries. This will then guide the development of effective treatments.
The team is focusing on injury to the brain’s blood vessels and changes to the way that blood clots. This is very important in traumatic brain injuries as continued bleeding in the brain is a common complication that leads to further irreversible damage and worse outcomes for patients.
To read more about Dr Newcombe's research please click here.
Their work will provide a better understanding of the extent and consequences of blood vessel injury following a traumatic brain injury, enabling improved judgements about injury severity and potentially opening up trials of new treatments.
We have highlighted acquired brain injury as an area in need of increased research investment. We want to improve quality of survival in survivors of brain injuries by funding research that will help us understand how to repair the brain, to enable people to make the best possible recovery.
Dr Newcombe’s research will help us understand why some people, like Scott, recover well from serious brain injuries, whilst others fare less well. This will help doctors understand how best to treat such injuries in the future.
With around 1.6 million people presenting at A&E departments with head injuries every year in the UK, this research is urgent.
If you would like to support this appeal please donate today.