Understanding Pathological Fatigue

With Action for Brain Injury Week having just gone, I wanted to take a look at some of the daily struggles people with brain injury have to overcome.

A brain injury can have devastating effects on the victim, their family and friends. Some of the effects are obvious, but what about those which are harder to see from the outside?

The problem

We all know how difficult being tired can make things. It makes you feel irritable, unable to concentrate and unwilling to socialise. Usually a good night’s sleep will be the remedy to freshen us up to face the rigours of everyday life again but what about if sleep didn’t help? What if you had that feeling all the time? How do you explain to someone that you feel this way despite having a full night’s sleep? This can be the life of someone who suffers with pathological fatigue.

Pathological fatigue is unfortunately a common issue in those with brain injury. This has been explored in a recent study by Headway Brain Injury Association, as part of their Brain Drain – Wake up to Fatigue campaign. Responses to the study report that 87% of those who suffered a brain injury stated pathological fatigue has a negative impact on their life.

Despite it being so common amongst those who suffer with a brain injury, 80% of respondents felt that others had an insufficient understanding of the impact of pathological fatigue, with 69% saying they feel they have been unfairly judged as a result of the lack of understanding.

Understanding the condition

Sadly, it can be all too easy to dismiss this debilitating condition as ‘whinging’ or ‘staying up too late’ and to simply tell someone to ‘get over it’. Even those closest to the victim can often misunderstand the nature of their illness, with 75% of respondents reporting this to be the case.

Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, believes this is a pervasive issue;

“As a society, we need to wake up and recognise the debilitating effects fatigue can have on people living with the long-term effects of brain injury.

“We all get tired from time-to-time, but for brain injury survivors fatigue can have a debilitating impact on every aspect of their lives. Even seemingly straightforward tasks such as going to the shop can drain a brain injury survivor of all their energy.”

Victims of pathological fatigue can find their lives changed dramatically, being unable to do tasks they were previously able to do with ease; this can lead to conflict for an individual and those around them. Peter McCabe firmly believes “…a lack of understanding of the underlying cause can lead to problems with relationships, work and social life, and the self-esteem of the brain injury survivor.”

Contact us

At Lanyon Bowdler we understand the need for specialist knowledge when working with those that have suffered a brain injury as a result of medical negligence. We work closely with professionals who broaden our understanding of these complex issues, ultimately allowing us to better address our clients’ needs and achieve the best result for them.

Lanyon Bowdler are proud to be corporate members of Headway and are listed in the Headway Head Injury Solicitors Directory.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this blog, you can contact a member of our team who will be happy to help you. Alternatively you can read more about the campaign at Headway Brain Injury Association.