Norwich man explores brain injury treatment following his recovery

Two years on from suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car crash which killed his wife, scientist

Two years on from suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car crash which killed his wife, scientist James Piercy is planning a series of talks enitled "What's going on in his head?" Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

Doctors have used a Norwich man's injury and rehabilitation to explore how they can treat people who suffer brain damage.

James Piercy, a former director of Inspire Discovery Centre on Oak Street, was left in a coma for a week after the car containing him, his wife Kate, and their three children hit a tree following a punctured tyre on the Dereham bypass in 2011.

He suffered Traumatic Brain Injury and was in a coma for a week after the accident, but has slowly rebuilt his life following the tragedy.

Recently he met the emergency crews and doctors who saved him - and they told him studying injuries such as the one he sustained can help explain how the brain works.

James said: 'I've been captivated by researches who are using cases like mine to get a better understanding of how this complex system of the brain operates.

'I set out to get a deeper understanding of what happened to me, and how I went from a 16% chance of dying in two weeks - and 65% chance of an unfavourable outcome in six months - to being back to something like normal.


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'It's helped my recovery to meet people who helped save me.'

Professor David Sharp, of Imperial College, London, said the wires connected in the brain stretch and become bruised - or at worst - disconnected, following impact.

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After James' accident his brain was still wired, but the signals were travelling the wrong way.

But through treatment such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy the brain can recover, Professor Sharp said.

'There can be very dynamic changes to the wiring of the brain at microscopic level, the connections of one neuron to the next is changing constantly,' he said.

'Things like physiotherapy will have an effect on the level of the neurons, you can map that out, and that opens the door to much more posistive interventions.'

As part of his rehabilitation James was given word games and pictures in which he had to identify objects.

By studying how the brain developes from those types of tasks Professor Sharp said it would be possible to get the right combination of drug and behavioural treatment which could change brain structure to get better outcomes.

James said; 'It's pretty amazing to think that in the future there could be ways of tinkering with our brains naturability to rewire itself that can improve recovery from injuries like mine.'

Are you recovering from a serious brain injury or do you have a health story? Contact our health correspondent at nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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