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Brain Injury Awareness Week: how much do you know about the invisible injury?

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Kevin Jones’ life was forever changed one February morning last year, when the experienced truck driver fell from his vehicle and sustained a traumatic brain injury.

18 months on, the 60-year-old father of three has no memory of the accident that took place on one of his routine delivery rounds – a job he had enjoyed and excelled at for more than a decade.

Mr Jones said the day, which started like any other, abruptly ended moments before his colleague found him lying unconscious by his truck with significant injuries to his head.

“When I woke up for work that morning, I took for granted my sense of smell and taste, the ability to get out of bed and go to work in the morning and, in general, my quality of life that after the accident would never be the same,” Mr Jones said. 

“I have no recollection of the accident which will forever remain a mystery as there were no witnesses to the fall. My memory is hazy of the next few days and after three weeks in hospital, I returned home still unaware of just how much my life would change.

“Most mornings I wake up with a headache, which often progresses to a migraine and I become physically and mentally exhausted after mundane tasks like house work and gardening.

“But it is not just the migraines; it is also the constant threat of one striking. They are unpredictable, unplanned and debilitating episodes that now dictate my life and often restrict me from leaving my home.

“Some days I can recall information, other days I struggle to remember even the names of my family members. I can remember something today but I have no way of knowing if I will remember it tomorrow.”

Two weeks before the accident, Mr Jones bought his dream car - a 2000 Corvette - a token of his four decades in the workforce and of the few years left before retirement.

“It now sits in the garage as a reminder of my previous life,” Mr Jones said. “Even on a good day, I am limited to how far I can drive before my health takes a turn.”  

Mr Jones said everyone has a part to play in raising awareness of acquired brain injuries. 

“It is so hard to try to explain to someone that I have a brain injury. People have a tendency to respond by scanning my body from head to toe looking for any visible sign of injury,” he said.

“A cast indicates a broken arm, hearing aids suggest a hearing impairment but an acquired brain injury is not distinctive, it is an invisible injury.

“It can be hard for people to understand my injury and that’s why Brain Injury Awareness Week is so important for my family and I as we all have a part to play in keeping the conversation going.” 

Slater and Gordon has partnered with Brain Injury Australia (BIA) to build awareness, increase support and improve development opportunities for people living with brain injuries.

Slater and Gordon General Manager Rachael James said raising awareness of acquired brain injuries is an important step towards giving a voice to the hundreds of thousands of Australians living with a brain injury.

“Acquired brain injuries are in many ways an invisible injury and as a society, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about the implications they can have on a person’s life,” Ms James said.

“We represent many people and their families who have been severely impacted by an unforeseen accident and we are proud to join the conversation in partnership with Brain Injury Australia to shed light on brain injuries.”

Brain Injury Awareness Week (August 21-27) is a national initiative which aims to raise awareness of acquired brain injuries and to assist in the prevention of incidence of brain injury.