- By Niall McCracken
- BBC News IS
A group of young people with brain injuries have created a film to raise awareness about their condition.
My Invisible Brain Injury was scripted and acted out by members of a support and guidance group run by the charity Brain Injury Matters.
All of the young people from Northern Ireland featured in the film have brain injuries.
It is caused by damage to the brain after birth and is not associated with congenital or degenerative disease.
Acquired brain injury is a long-term, often latent disability.
It can occur in a number of ways, including physical trauma such as a car accident or a medical emergency such as a stroke.
Other causes include concussions, infections, and some cancers.
There are no official figures on the number of people living with a brain injury in Northern Ireland, but it is estimated that around 2,000 people sustain one each year.
Brain Injury Matters said this is an underrepresentation of the true picture, as many people live with the long-term effects of brain injury, which can sometimes be invisible.
’It is invisible’
„The answer went into my brain and then decided to remove itself.”
Nikita felt the same in the recent exam.
Feeling nervous and overwhelmed is not an uncommon experience for any teen taking a test.
But the 22-year-old, from County Armagh, has been living with a brain injury for years.
„It’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it,” Nikita said.
„I did all my revisions and I know the answer – it’s not like brain fog and the answers are gone.”
She adds: “I felt alone after my brain injury because people don’t realize that everything related to brain injury is unknown.
„At first I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone, and I felt like I needed to talk about it.”
Nikita was one of a group of young people who produced a short film depicting what life is like with a brain injury.
It depicts the common consequences of brain injury and its impact on young people, as well as the lives and relationships of those with whom they live, work and interact.
Some scenes show the impact it can have on someone’s work life and the significant changes they have to make, while other scenes explore everyday difficulties like ordering coffee.
The film was created by young people from the Southern Health Trust – who wrote the dialogues, recorded the voices, acted and assisted in the filming.
Josh is from Moira in the county town and is part of the team.
„I did camera work and filming, and I loved directing,” he said.
Originally from Belfast, Gabriel was delighted to be involved in all aspects of the production.
„In my free time I love creativity, music and things like that, so it was great to have multiple roles in our film,” he added.
„Through film, it’s important to show as a group how hard it is for us in real life, so people can understand.”
Daniel, from County Tyrone, has one of the final lines of the film and talks about the importance of the brain injury group in helping him make new friends.
The group was brought together through a brain injury peer mentoring program.
It connects teens and young adults with brain injuries, helping them build confidence.
Paula Mathers is part of the Children and Young People’s Brain Injury Service.
He said: “Our mentoring program is so important because it creates a place for these young people to have fun and meet others with a shared experience.
„Not only can this help them better understand their own injury, but it can also show them what’s best for them to live their best life.”
Rory has been a mentor to the group for many years.
She believes support for young people is key to overcoming the stigma surrounding brain injuries.
„I remember having a brain injury when I was 16, and there was no one around me who had gone through a similar experience, so I couldn’t ask questions or get advice,” she said.
„So I think the image we’ve put together is really good and shows the youth of today that you’re not alone, there’s help.”
Brain Injury Matters received over half a million pounds from the National Lottery Community Fund to help young people with brain injury understand the impact of their injury and access support.
„Totalny pionier w sieci. Specjalista od piwa niezależny. Ewangelista popkultury. Miłośnik muzyki. Nieprzepraszający przedsiębiorca”.