Jade was hit by a car on her 15th birthday and was rushed to hospital. As the ambulance raced through traffic with sirens blaring, Jade’s parents were warned that she may not survive the journey. They breathed a sigh of relief as they reached the hospital. Jade had fractured the back of her skull and badly damaged her brain in the impact. She had five hours of brain surgery and part of her right frontal lobe was removed. Jade’s parents were told she may never walk or talk again.
A happy birthday had turned into the worst day imaginable. “I don’t remember anything,” said Jade, “and I spent the summer in intensive care in a coma.” Jade slowly recovered in hospital, but she needed intensive, specialist rehabilitation to help her walk and talk again. The part of Jade’s brain that had been removed affected her personality and organisation. So, she also needed support with her cognitive skills, which the brain uses to think, remember, pay attention and reason. Her parents were delighted that Jade could come to The Children’s Trust to get this support and expertise, and she arrived in September 2001.
“People ask me ‘what’s it like to have a brain injury?’” said Jade. “Think of your brain as a filing cabinet. Everything you can do, know, think and feel are sheets of paper all stored inside. When you have a head injury it is as if someone has emptied the filing cabinet and all the papers are scattered and muddled up. Some are even missing. What The Children’s Trust did was to help me pick up all the papers and sort them out for myself. When a paper was missing, I learned new ways to do things.”
She achieved this through our programme of therapies: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and play therapy. Jade recalled: “The staff were serious specialists but made everything such fun. I still remember their names, they were like family to me.” Jade amazed her parents by being able to walk and talk again.
A big moment for Jade was when she organised and booked a trip to the cinema. It sounds simple, but it was a huge challenge at the time. She proved to herself that she could ‘file things’ in her brain again, which gave her confidence a massive boost.
In December 2001, Jade went back home and to school, continuing to receive our support. “The Children’s Trust even came to my school to explain to my teachers and classmates about my injury and what to expect,” said Jade. Jade completed her GCSEs, went on to college and studied a diploma in childcare. After this she went to University where she achieved a BA in Educational Studies gaining a 2:1. She took a placement in a school for a while and worked for a major UK retailer.
Now Jade is busy looking after baby Florence and she and Martin are planning their wedding. She is also looking forward to celebrating her first Mother’s Day with her family. Over the years Jade has come back to The Children’s Trust to talk about her experience. She’s walked the Great Wall of China, run the London Marathon and trekked through the jungles of Panama with her mum, Lin, to raise money for our work. “I wanted to give something back because I wouldn’t have achieved so much, if not for this wonderful charity,” said Jade.