A STUDENT nurse from Roath who suffered severe brain injuries has spoken about the damage a single punch can cause.
Craig Richards, aged 22, was punched once in an unprovoked attack on September 19 on Cowbridge Road East. This caused a frontal lobe bleed which became infected. The resulting craniotomy took five hours and required 32 staples.
His attacker was jailed for 40 months for several offences including the assault on Mr Richards.
The incident has had a huge effect on Mr Richards’ life. He said: “Daily living has been a struggle and crowded places are a challenge. I feel overwhelming anxiety when it’s busy in public.
“Even doing the normal things I love to do such as cinema, music and socialising are difficult as I struggle with the noise and concentration. I have insomnia and it has put pressure on my relationships.
“My mood can change quickly and dramatically. Often I feel isolated as I have nothing to do. I am now unable to drive, attend university and placements, unable to work and socialise with friends.”
These sort of symptoms are not uncommon but the effects of brain injuries never certain. Professor Nick Alderman, a Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist said: “Outcomes of brain injuries are complicated to predict. Some people have problems with mood, some have cognitive problems and some memory problems. No two brains are the same and no two brain injuries are the same so it is very hard to predict recovery.”
Professor Alderman, who is also Director of Clinical Services for Brain Injury Services at Partnerships in Care, also warned about not getting head injuries checked. He said: “This is a constant problem with people admitted to A&E with multiple injuries. The broken bones distract the nurses and doctors and the brain injury gets missed.”
Despite the challenges Mr Richards remains upbeat. He said: “I understand that this is temporary. In time, I hope to allow the situation to help develop my career and myself in general.
“I will be able to show a lot more empathy with patients, their relatives and also help others to understand what it is like being in their situation. Hospital can be a very lonely place, even though you are surrounded by people. Sometimes there can be an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and isolation.”
Mr Richards has been talking to the mental health charity Headway that helps rehabilitate people with brain injuries.
“I feel that helping others will aid me and also give something to others. I am looking forward to seeing the opportunities I will have to help those without the support and care that is needed following life changing events,” he said.