Road traffic accident: Brittney

Brittney was walking to school with her sister when she was involved in a serious road traffic accident that resulted in a brain injury. Mum Pat shares their story.

Published: March 2021. Date of brain injury: April 2019 (aged 11) 

Brittney at the farm

The accident happened on the morning of 1 April. I got a phone call from a woman, who told me that my daughter’s friend had been knocked over, but I then heard my older daughter in the background saying, “It’s not my friend, it’s my sister.”

I got dressed quickly but couldn’t find any shoes. I remembered I had left some outside in the car so I went to look for them. Once I had some shoes on, I don’t know if it was mother’s instinct, but something told me to run. When I got to the top of the road I could see Brittney lying in the middle of the road, instantly I could see that she wasn’t okay.  

The medical team on the scene said that she would have to be airlifted to hospital, and it wasn’t long before Brittney was rushed to the London Royal Hospital via helicopter. Initial CT scans showed that she had suffered a traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage,  bleeding into the space that surrounds the brain. 

I stayed by her side in the hospital and after three days on a ventilator, Brittney finally woke up. She was unable to stand, sit, walk, talk, eat or feed herself, and it was going to be a long road for her to relearn all these skills. 

Recovery and Rehabilitation 

Slowly, Brittney started to improve and after spending two months in hospital, she was stable enough to be transferred to The Children’s Trust for four months of intensive rehabilitation.

Brittney at The Children's Trust

Being in hospital was stressful at times because we could not be together as a family. Brittney was only able to see her siblings for a short time each week as school continued for them, so trying to keep her entertained was sometimes difficult. 

However, watching the daily progress made it all worthwhile. Brittney’s favourite sessions were physiotherapy as she was determined to recover as much she could. Every day felt like winning the lottery as she’d do something new, no matter how small and trivial it seemed. 

Some days also felt like Groundhog Day so we couldn’t wait to go back to normality. There was also a lot of anxiety as to how we were going to settle back home, as Brittney now had needs that home could not accommodate, so we were over the moon when we heard about The Children’s Trust and all the things they were offering Brittney as she still had a long way to go.  

When we first arrived at Tadworth in Surrey we felt a mixture of anxiety and excitement. We were afraid of how we were going to cope in a new environment that was far from home but offered more freedom that hospital. 

Brittney at Superhero Tri

Brittney was excited about having her own room but also nervous as she had become accustomed to both of us sharing at the hospital. This place was so big, full of greenery, which was so different from the busy city environment back at the hospital. I had my own space now about five/six minutes away. It felt like Brittney was now going to get some routine back in her life. She had a timetable catered specifically for her needs and what was best for her recovery.
 
The timetable included Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physiotherapy. Brittney had Physiotherapy every day and it quickly became one of her favourite sessions. It really helped her learn to walk again and towards the end of our stay in Tadworth she was even able to try playing netball again. Something she loved doing before her accident. 

The psychology sessions with Katie were also brilliant for Brittney’s wellbeing, and it was something that she looked forward to each week. They provided a time for her to address the accident and learn to accept the new her, both things that she had been struggling with. Katie helped her understand a lot of her behaviours and put everything into perspective. 

Brittney has come such a long way and is now able to walk and talk. She is continuing to make progress at home and has even gone back to school. I could not have done it without The Children’s Trust. They really are lifesavers.

Brittney at home

The Future 

Brittney and sisters

The pandemic hasn’t been easy for us, but we learnt a lot of survival skills being at The Children’s Trust. Being there helped us come back together as a family after something so big had happened. It was almost practice for what was to come. We learnt to talk about our problems together, spend time together, whilst valuing every moment with each other. We continue to look forward to what the future will look like especially once lockdown is over.  

Brittney has had lots of opportunities to pursue her love of fashion and art since Tadworth. Taking part in zoom calls, entering small make-up sessions and continuing her physiotherapy as she hopes to one day be able to do physical activities as well as she did before her accident. 

She continues with her online schooling but looks forward to returning to school and seeing all her school friends. Brittney continues to remain hopeful for the future and hopefully be able to do enough to sit her GCSEs. 

Brittney and mum Pat featured on BBC One’s Lifeline appeal on 22nd November 2020, hosted by Martin Kemp. You can watch the 10-minute film featuring Brittney and family here

Brittney also enjoyed cooking sessions at The Children’s Trust and she features in The Step-by-step Cookbook, an easy-read cookbook with tick-off instructions.

Residential rehabilitation

The Children's Trust offers a range of residential brain injury rehabilitation services for children and young people with acquired brain injury (ABI).