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Case study: Cycling accident leads to David becoming a research volunteer

Meet David, whose involvement in a traumatic accident and commitment to volunteering has led him to get involved with medical research

In 2015, David was cycling when he was hit by a car, smashing his head on the windscreen leading to a traumatic brain injury. He was flown to hospital via air ambulance for an urgent brain operation to relieve the pressure on his brain. 

The severity of the injury was such that at one point his family were told to prepare for his death; however, after four weeks David came out of his coma and was subsequently moved to a rehabilitation centre to recover.

10 months after leaving the centre, David became involved in local volunteering projects including sorting clothes at a local charity shop, and taking part in the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) volunteering programme.

David’s next step was to become an IT buddy at the local library, working with older audiences to provide them with digital support such as helping them to create email addresses, and teaching them to use the internet to pay utility bills, drawing on the skills that he developed in his career as an IT security consultant.

After a year of volunteering (2 years after the accident) David returned to work, serving as an IT consultant for the Metropolitan Police. 2 years after returning to work David retired from professional employment and has become involved in volunteering full-time, and his determination to help others has seen him recently become involved in his first research study in Nottingham.

The study, which David found out about online, is focusing on vocational rehabilitation post brain injury. David has begun providing input from a PPI perspective, helping to shape a questionnaire to tease out answers and information from participants that researchers can then analyse and act on.

He is looking to use his skills and experience to get involved with more initiatives to develop research, with a particular interest in research into dementia. David is keen to become an NIHR Research Champion so that he can help raise the profile of research into areas such as brain injuries and dementia, and encourage more people to take part in research to improve healthcare in the future.

Away from research, David also spends time meeting and greeting patients at the hospital where he was treated. He has worked with the Centre for Trauma Sciences at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, reviewing documents to help improve wording and structure to work more effectively for a patient audience.

David’s commitment to finding solutions to help people has also seen him create a discharge sheet to be distributed to patients leaving the rehabilitation centre where he was treated, pointing them in the direction of organisations who are able to provide support.

A keen tennis fan, David says that he lives by Arthur Ashe’s mantra: “from what we get we can make a living, from what we give we can make a life.”

Read more about David on his website.