July 23, 2015

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.

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In our Untold Stories Hub we hope to share some of the hidden issues that come with brain injury and demonstrate how they affect individuals and their families.

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  • Kathy King-Briere says:

    There really needs to b more information on Brain Injury out in the public. People need to try to have an understanding of what it is all about. If u have never had a Brain Injury u can not understand it. I try to explain it like this…
    Can u explain what giving birth feels like to someone who has never been pregnant. There is NO way to do this but it does not make the pain any less real just cause it can’t b understood or felt by others.
    It really SUCKS when u have no memory/ u r fatigued all the time (no it’s not like being very tired. Being tired implies that with rest u will feel better. This fatigue is AWFUL !! Ur emotions r all over the place. U loose urself n have to welcome a new u. Not an easy feat. It’s been 3 years since my Stroke (2016) n I still don’t like me now. I totally lost my independence, I lost my house, I had to pay $440.00 to get my licence back (thank god for my daughters who raised all the money for that) I have been a waitress my whole life. That is over. I can no longer carry the plates of food I can’t remember if someone asks me something as I walk by. I no longer have the stamina to work on top of all that.
    All of us Brain Injury Survivors need the public to get more info on something that affects a lot of people n totally changes their lives

  • Nigel Picken says:

    It’s 39 years in January since I had an Rta which changed my life. I’ve always considered myself extremely fortunate to have come through it! But now that I’m older, 61 now, I was 22 when it happened, there are many days when I wish that I hadn’t been so lucky. That sounds very dramatic and I don’t mean it to be but sometimes life is hard work

    • Stuart Brazington says:

      Thanks for your comment, Nigel. Coming to terms with brain injury often means a new way of life – finding that path is not always easy, and it will certainly be rocky from time to time. There is support out there, though.

      We’ve heard about similar struggles from our own clients, who’ve spoken on the subject of brain injury here if it would be of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16nmPDDC88c

  • Craig chapman says:

    Hi I had a major head injury in 2002 when I was smashed on the head by a large ash tray fractured skull in 4 places made me deaf in left ear and still deaf 19 yrs later had brain fluid seeping from my ear spent 4 weeks in a coma and in hospital for 3 months docs said I am extremely lucky to be alive as I only had 25 per cent chance of surviving I still get very snappy and can get aggressive really quickly not a day goes by when I dont think about that night and knowing how lucky I am