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‘I’m an example that you can rebuild your life after a serious brain injury’

Four years after suffering a brain injury in a motorcycle accident, Lewis Foster hopes his story will provide hope to others who suffer life-changing injuries.

Lewis was just 17-years-old when he was left fighting for his life and given just a 35% chance of survival following his accident. As well as his brain injury, he suffered further serious injuries to his pelvis, bladder, liver and right arm.

The situation was desperate, and paramedics had to put him into an induced coma on the roadside to ensure he remained in a stable condition, as his life hung in the balance.

Lewis was in intensive care, trauma and rehabilitation wards for close to two months before being discharged to start rebuilding his life.

And rebuild his life he has done, with the help and support of his loved ones, and a dedicated team of specialists who, thanks to a personal injury legal claim, have been at his side to help every step of the way.

“My first memory after the accident was in hospital and it was like how you see in the movies, when you have blurred vision to the extreme and you can see lights around you. It was like that, with my family saying ‘are you alright?” Lewis recalled, sharing his story to mark Brain Injury Awareness Month.

“I remember being told I’d been involved in a motorcycle accident, and in a weird sense at that moment it wasn’t a case of being terrified, it was acceptance that something serious had happened to me. I knew that everybody I love was around me, so I thought I must be alright. In my mind, if I’ve got people who I love around me I’ll always be ok.

“The full realisation of how serious things were came when I was in the trauma ward, where I could see all my open wounds and damage. I thought ‘I am here now, there’s not a lot I can do with it. I had to accept that it had happened and move on, otherwise I’d get completely caught up in a negative spiral. I just thought I’ll give it my best shot and that’s what I have done.”

Family instructed Hudgell Solicitors serious injury team

Lewis’ family contacted Hudgell Solicitors for help and Samuel McFadyen, an associate solicitor and a catastrophic injury specialist, spoke to Lewis and his father whilst he was still in the rehabilitation centre, setting out the support that Hudgells would provide.

A specialist team was then assembled to provide a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for Lewis, led by a dedicated brain injury case manager, who placed a focus on ensuring support was continually adapted to meet Lewis’ needs as they changed throughout his recovery.

“I remember speaking to Sam when I was in the rehab ward. I remember my dad put me on the phone to Sam and he assured me that things were going to be alright. He said ‘I’m going to sort this out for you’. That meant the world to me and from then I knew Sam had my back, no matter what,” he recalled.

“When you are on that bed and how you are, and someone makes a promise to you that they’ll do their very best for you, that’s so important. From then, anything I’ve needed or wanted to talk about, Sam has been there for me. There’s nothing I couldn’t go to him about.

“If I ever needed rehab he would arrange it. I had two or three rehab packages due to declines in my mental health at various stages, and there was no length Sam wouldn’t go to ensure I was well in both body and mind.

“I’ve also had various interim payments over the years to help when I’ve been low on funds as I couldn’t work due to my injury.”

Pictures from the scene of Lewis’ crash

A photo by Air TV showing the scene and the smashed car windscreen illustrating the impact. As Lewis' motorcycle lies on the ground.A photo, taken by Air TV, showing emergency services personnel working on Lewis

Photos by Air TV show the impact on the windscreen of the car and Lewis’ motorcycle, as well as emergency services staff caring for Lewis at the scene.

University brought ‘new lease of life’

Lewis set out with determination to ensure his injury would not hold him back, firstly completing the National Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for the air ambulance crews who helped save his life, and then embarking on a media studies course at university.

It was there he met his partner Tida Oldfield, 22, with whom he is planning to move into a new home in Durham, with his personal injury claim having secured a £1m settlement in compensation for his injuries, and the impact it has had on his life.

“Me and Lewis just got on straight away,” said Tida.

“He was just in his element at university and he was the most outgoing character I’d ever seen, but when the lockdown hit over the Christmas period of 2020, Lewis had a bit of a dip, so I really just looked after him and kept him alright.

“I’ve only ever known Lewis with a brain injury, so it wasn’t really much to adapt to, it was just how this person is, which I think he really appreciated at the time. I was someone who just treated him as a normal person, making sure he was alright. That has always been in my nature to make sure everyone else is ok.”

Psychological support has been key to recovery

Lewis says the support of a clinical neuropsychologist and neuropsychiatrist has been key in helping him overcome the struggle of accepting how his life has changed, giving him methods to cope with times of low mood.

“You have a lot of time to think and contemplate what has happened to your life,” he said.

“Dealing with those emotions is hard, and Sam sourced specialist brain injury consultants that put the ideologies and strategies in place which really helped me to get through that. I’ve had struggles both physically and mentally, and in dealing with how people treat you.

“A brain injury is an invisible disability. People on the street wouldn’t know what’s happened to me, but it’s important that people understand that I’m wired up a bit differently now, my perception is different, and I sees things differently maybe to how other people may see them.

“I’ve changed as a person, I know that. I’m completely different from before. There have been changes in my personality, and my family say I have no filter in terms of what I say in certain situations, in terms of what is appropriate or not.

“I think the brain injury was just like hitting a reset button. My memories took a while to come back, but my perceptions had reset. I suffered quite a lot with my mental health when I was younger too and people would drag me down, but after what happened to me, what I have achieved since is remarkable.

“I’m definitely an example that you can get through something as severe as an extreme road traffic collision.”

Tida says she has seen a big change in Lewis over the past couple of years.

“He has become a lot more resilient and he is able to manage day to day life a lot better than he used to,” she said.

“He used to let stuff get to him and he’d fixate on it for a long period of time, whereas now he can talk about what’s going on in his mind now and it can be resolved pretty quickly in comparison to how long it used to take him to resolve them.

“I’ve never been more proud of anything in my life than I am of Lewis now. We’re looking forward to the future. We are moving into this new house in Durham, where we have a support system with the best team of people. We will be across the road from his mum so Lewis can walk the dog with his mum whilst I am at work. It just gets him motivated a bit more.

“We wouldn’t have been able to buy the house without the injury claim, and it gives Lewis a lot of stability for the future of his life. He’s able to do what he wants really. If he wants to take up a part time job he can but he can also invest his compensation.

“It benefits the both of us as I don’t have to work as many hours as the house is already paid for so we can focus on supporting each other.”

‘Rest of his life ahead of him’

Solicitor Sam McFadyen, who led the case and secured a final £1m damages settlement for Lewis, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to support Lewis over the past four years. There have been many ups and downs for Lewis and his family since his accident, but he has persevered with the help and input from specialist brain injury clinicians and a dedicated multidisciplinary rehabilitation team.

“As a young man with the rest of his life ahead of him, Lewis has naturally wanted to get on and rebuild as quickly as possible, and at times that has brought frustration for him, where he has needed that specialist support and advice.

“It is really pleasing to see where he is now, having met his partner at university and now planning a new life together in a new home funded by his damages. The settlement gives them the financial security to plan for their future.

“We wish Lewis all the best, and as ever, we are always here if he should need us for help and advice in the future.”

Written by Hudgell Solicitors

Brain Injury Group member firm, Hudgell Solicitors are a leading specialist litigation practice helping people across England and Wales to right the wrongs caused by others.

Hudgell Solicitors serve clients nationwide and have offices in Hull, London and Manchester.

How can Brain Injury Group help?

If you would like advice about bringing a brain injury claim, capacity, deputyships, managing the award of compensation or any other aspect of brain injury welfare, legal or financial advice, we have specialist brain injury solicitors and Court of Protection solicitors who can assist.

Contact Brain Injury Group – to get in touch you can either:

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