Coronation Street fans waited for weeks to find out the fate of Nick Tilsley who lay in a coma following the car crash caused by his brother, David Platt, when he took the steering wheel during an argument. Initially viewers were relieved that Nick survived the impact and regained consciousness.
But the relief has been short-lived as the brain injury Nick suffered caused dramatic changes in his personality. The once easy-going likeable character is now turning angry, obsessive and irrational.
Sadly, such personality changes following a brain injury are not uncommon. The reality of living with a personality change and brain injury is explained in more detail by expert service providers to the Brain Injury Group (braininjurygroup.co.uk).
Which part of the brain affects personality?
“The frontal and anterior temporal lobes of the brain are the most commonly damaged areas in traumatic brain injuries. As these areas are associated with personality and behaviour, if they are damaged, changes to emotional responses, decision-making and judgement can result,” says Dr Paul Shotbolt, MA PhD MRCPsych from Re:Cognition Health, who specialise in assessing the extent of brain injuries and providing psychological therapy and rehabilitation.
“Problems that arise include rapid mood changes, severe irritability, aggression, paranoia and intellectual disability. Furthermore, relationship and marital breakdown is extremely common after brain injury,” he explains.
What are the key symptoms displayed by people injured like Nick?
“Symptoms vary among individuals but it can be the case that brain injured patients are impulsive, lack inhibition and prone to angry outbursts,” says Jenny Fearn, Case Manager and Occupational Therapist at Independent Living Solutions, which helps coordinate the rehabilitation of brain injured patients. “Our role is to work with and support brain injured individuals and their families, who may be have to deal with negative personality changes such as irrational, irritable and sometimes obsessive behaviour,” she says. “People who have suffered a brain injury can sometimes lose their short-term memory, motivation and previously-learned social skills which can be very difficult for them and their family.”
How are families affected?
Straight after an accident, families are simply relieved that their loved one has survived. But this soon turns to shock, fear and disappointment when they realise their relative has changed dramatically. “Family members often experience feelings of depression, denial, anger, fear, guilt and anxiety,” explains Jenny. “We help families come to terms with what has happened and work with other professionals to provide treatment and management strategies to help them cope,” she says.
What does Nick’s future hold?
“There will certainly be tough times ahead for Nick, Leanne and the rest of the family and I imagine we will see further upsets for Nick and his increasingly tangled family relationships over the coming weeks,” says Sally Dunscombe, founder of the Brain Injury Group which provides a gateway to expert advice on brain injury. “We are pleased that Coronation Street has included this story line and hope that viewers will learn more about how brain injury affects people so they can be more tolerant and understanding,” she says.
If you have been affected by brain injury, visit www.braininjurygroup.co.uk or call 0800 612 9660 for advice and signposting to support services.
For more detailed information, to speak to a Brain Injury Group expert or one of our selected case studies, contact: Katherine@prworkshop.co.uk on 07787 533143.
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