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Case study: David’s story: life after a Traumatic Brain Injury

Find out about David’s story and his role as a Research Champion

David Wozny had never been involved in research before, until 2015 when he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after being struck by a car whose driver didn’t see him. David received surgery to remove the pressure on his brain and was later comatose for a period of 28 days. When he woke, David had locked-in syndrome, which is a condition where a person is conscious (aware) of what is happening around them, but are unable to speak or move anything other than their eyes. 

David described his situation as “hopeless and helpless.” He spent a further 8 weeks in a NHS rehabilitation centre, before he could be discharged home. David remembers how he would “look in the mirror and visually recognise the human being, but I felt like a different person. I thought of myself as an alien living inside my own physical body” and “when people said it could take two or more years to recover it felt like I was being fobbed off, I genuinely felt I would never get better.”

Before his injury, David was an IT security consultant for the Metropolitan Police. He recognised that he “desperately wanted to feel useful again.” So, in 2016 he began volunteering in several roles, and he was able to use his technical skills by becoming an “IT buddy” at his local library. In 2017, David returned to work for the Met Police, but experienced challenges due to his severe short-term memory problems. A year later, David retired from working professionally. David highlights how he has different values since his accident, and now gets so much enjoyment from volunteering work. 

David later began participating in NHS and University studies with the aims of assisting brain injury survivors. In particular, David was involved in the ROWTATE (Return to Work After Trauma) programme as a patient representative which is funded by the NIHR and led by the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and University of Nottingham. The aim of this research programme is to develop a package of support to help moderately and severely injured patients return to work and assess how well it works. Find out more information about the ROWTATE programme here. 

David continues to do volunteering activities, and is a Research Champion for the NIHR CRN East Midlands. He is actively involved in what he likes to call ‘Tea and Tech’ where he is able to use his IT skills to help the elderly or others with brain injuries. He emphasises how he feels “lucky each new day because I know I am alive.” David wants to take part in more volunteering and research opportunities, and continues to help others in any way he can.

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