THEY ARE the “walking wounded”.
All around us, a rising number of people with acquired brain injuries are battling to gain a grip on their lives, after suffering serious injuries as a result of a fall off a bike, a ladder, down the stairs, or a car accident, after consuming alcohol, drugs, or simply being very unlucky.
For some it’s the result of a stroke or aneurysm, and in many cases it’s happening earlier in life than ever before.
Louise Carey, manager of Headway, the Steamboat Quay based agency for people with such injuries, was speaking this week to highlight brain injury awareness month.
“Some people out there don’t have any service and don’t know where to turn,” she told the Limerick Leader.
“We’re not known enough. People don’t know we’re here, or else they think we’re a hairdressers.”
Headway, an Irish and UK organisation, started with four clients in Limerick, but now has over 40 full and part-time clients, aged 16 to 65.
Every one of them is different, but together they can find something in common, and life is that bit easier.
There are three programmes on offer - rehabilitative; vocational to help people get back to work and study, and a three-day service programme, for those who do not plan to go back to work but want to have some structure to their lives and routine.
Gardai, bank managers, nurses and engineers are among their clients who have had to start all over again, relearn and maybe even find a new career path.
“You can still have a life but it’s a different life to what you had,” Louise explains. “They are like the walking wounded - they might look perfectly normal but are battling many challenges, including memory loss, speech or cognitive difficulties, and changes in emotional behaviour.
“Family life is affected. It can be torn apart, but there’s life after brain injury. There is hope. They are amazing, courageous people, and I’m so lucky to work with them,” said Louise, who has worked in this area for 11 years.
Headway, which is reliant on funding from FAS and the HSE, will hold a golf classic in Charleville on June 14.
It is one of their main fundraising appeals. Call 061 469306 to book.
See this weekend’s Limerick Leader to read more about how Headway’s clients are rebuilding their lives