Seán’s Mum, Jenny, recounts his experiences over the last couple of years:
“Seán was studying and doing his masters at Imperial College and had just finished his exams when in March 2019 he had a very serious accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was picked up by London Air Ambulance who took him to The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. He had several very large surgeries that saved his life. He was in a coma for a long time – a complete coma with no responses at all for 2 months. After that he started opening his eyes.
In June 2019 he was transferred to Putney where they treat people with persistent disorders of consciousness. He started to emerge by moving his fingers first, then his hand, then his arm, and was then able to answer questions with a yes and no, using a big switch. After a couple of trips back to Whitechapel following complications, in December 2019 he was transferred to a rehab stream in Putney and he started to improve.
He was in Putney for over a year and then we were looking at what his next steps could be and he got a place at QEF in Leatherhead. We were delighted and he has gone from strength to strength here. When he got to QEF he was just beginning to use his mechanical hoist to get in and out of bed, now he can transfer out of bed himself and he’s started walking with his frame.
Seán wasn’t able to talk for the first year, then he was only able to whisper, now he’s able to talk well, he’s just working on his clarity. I can understand what he says but he has to work hard to get people who don’t know him to understand. He uses a whiteboard sometimes when people can’t understand him and he uses Whats App and social with his friends a lot – he can definitely write texts!
His mobility is getting there. We set him 2 challenges – the first was to virtually cycle from Surrey to Dublin – 624km which he did on his exercise bike and completed it ahead of time. His next challenge is to walk from his room out the front door of QEF on the day he goes home. He’s nearly there – we’ve been practising every day for the last week and he’s already doing it with one little break at reception - he’s going to do it though with the walker.
Seán’s going back to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dublin which coincidentally is very close to our home. We’re making the house ready so he can have full access and his friends just can’t wait to see him – they are very excited for him to come home.
The future for Seán is hopefully that he continues to progress. His masters in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is half done, he just has to complete a summer project which he may or may not get back to. He has a job open with Amazon if and when he’s able to come back to it. We don’t really know what the future holds, but he’s going to walk again, and he’s going to gain more and more independence. He’s a very determined young man – he never gives up. “