5 famous people who suffered brain injury
1. Richard Hammond
In 2006, Richard Hammond crashed while driving a high speed jet-powered car when filming Top Gear. Richard suffered a serious brain injury. Following the accident, he suffered from severe depression and had problems processing information and controlling his emotions. Richard admitted that he became obsessive and compulsive, plagued with paranoia; however, at the time he was unaware of these traits. This made live filming extremely difficult. He frequently lost his temper, became defensive and felt threatened by events going on around him. He also suffered another classic symptom of brain injury: his short-term memory was affected.
Richard underwent a comprehensive rehabilitation. When considering his achievements since his crash, it is easy to forget the extent of the problems that he suffered in the early stages. Richard now openly quips that the only problems he is left with is his new liking for celery! It may be the case that Richard has developed strategies to overcome the effects of his brain injury and having seen his television performances, it is clear these are very effective.
2. James Cracknell
Gold medal winning Olympian James Cracknell suffered a serious brain injury while filming in Arizona for a TV show in 2010. Like Richard Hammond, James underwent intensive acute neurorehabilitation.
In the book “Touching Distance”, James and his wife Beverley Turner explain the problems he's had following his brain injury. James developed epilepsy, memory problems and completely lost his sense of taste. Also his personality has changed; he loses his temper quickly and becomes aggressive. Beverley is candid in her writing about the effect of James’s brain injury and personality change on their marriage and the strain it has put on the whole family.
As a sportsman James possesses huge drive and a fierce competitive nature. Looking at his achievements since his brain injury, these personality traits certainly continue. He has thrown himself into supporting Headway, the Brain Injury Association, which has done much to raise awareness about brain injury and its effects.
3. Rik Mayall
The late actor, director and writer Rik Mayall suffered a brain injury in 1998 when the quad bike he was riding crashed. Rik suffered a fractured skull and was placed into an induced coma. As a consequence, Rik suffered from epilepsy, for which he took medication daily. After rehabilitation, it is reported that Rik still suffered with memory problems. However, none of these issues have stopped Rik’s creativity shining through; he was doubtless determined to carry on after his injury and must have developed his own strategies that helped him in day-to-day life.
4. Marc Almond
Singer, songwriter and musician Marc Almond suffered a brain injury as a result of a motorcycle crash in 2004. Like Richard, James and Rik, Marc is a frequent live performer in front of large audiences. Following his head injury, Marc redeveloped the stammer he had had in his youth. He also suffered from a loss of confidence, mood swings and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A rehabilitation programme helped him to get back to performing live, and he has been quoted saying that he was determined to get back to the type of life he used to have, although there would have to be some concessions.
5. Roald Dahl
The late Roald Dahl, novelist, poet and screenwriter, served as a fighter pilot during World War II. In 1940, he crashed his plane and suffered a brain injury. Many of Roald Dahl’s works remain bestsellers to this day; however, it was only after his brain injury and a personality change that his famous darker side came to the fore. His confidence increased and his sense of embarrassment diminished. He developed a desire to shock people. While many of Roald Dahl’s books appeal to children, there is an underlying dark humour which did not manifest prior to his brain injury.
What do they all have in common?
One common trait that seems to shine through in all of these people’s personalities is their ability to perform at the highest level before their brain injury and their sheer determination to carry on after it. Our clients may not be celebrities, but our Personal Injury team witness people struggling and not giving up after a brain injury every day. We work with clients who have suffered varying effects of brain injury and help them get the support and advice they need to achieve the best quality of life possible - providing security for the future.
Memory loss and brain injury
Watch our film about memory loss and brain injury.
Released to coincide with Headway’s ‘Memory Loss: A Campaign To Remember’ campaign in 2020, our film follows the experience of Nick and others who have seen the effects of brain injury first-hand.