Headway Hertfordshire - supporting people affected by brain injury

Bav Patel's Story

One punch to the face shattered Bav’s life

One punch to the face of 27-year-old Bav sent him crashing
to the ground. He hit his head on the kerb and suffered
severe brain injury.

His assailant was jailed for four and a half years for this
unprovoked attack but for a young man like Bav the
sentence has been for life.

He was rushed to hospital and induced into a coma in a bid
to save his life. While in the coma he had a stroke which
paralysed the right hand side of his body.

Bav had been hit by a double whammy - brain injury and
paralysis. When he came out of the coma he was like a
newborn baby, unable to recognise anyone, unable to move,
unable to speak.

'I had to learn everything again,' Bav said, 'how to walk, how
to speak and how to read and write again. I had to work out
who my mum was, who my dad was, who my friends were. I
just didn't know anyone and I cannot describe how lost I felt.'

It was when he was moved to the rehab centre that the
battle for recovery began. Now, six years on, Bav at 33 is
making good progress though there are still enormous

'I have lost a lot of my sight permanently but I can talk now,
though I often have to struggle for the right words. I can read
simple stuff though I used to be a big reader before the

Bav was discharged not to his flat but to his parents' home. 'I
have a big widespread family. 'My dad was born in Kenya,
my mum was born in India and I was born in Leeds,' he said
with a smile.

'Without doubt one of the best things in my recovery was
going to Headway. I used to be ace with computers but of
course forgot all that, but slowly at Headway I have learned
some skills again.'

Bav is now looking for work though intense fatigue in the
afternoons is still a hurdle. And he can no longer drive so is
dependent on buses.

'At Headway I joined HABIT, the rehabilitation course and it
was so good to talk with a group of other people like me,
who understood how it is and who have the same kind of
problems. My dad died earlier this year unfortunately but one
of the many things he did for me was to find out about
Headway and come with me to my first meeting.

'You know, that was my turning point. This is my second life.
In the ambulance apparently they thought I was dead. But
here I am, and I am learning something new every day.'