Improving life after brain injury Need to talk? 0808 800 2244

Home About brain injury Further information Research Brain injury research

Brain Drain: Experienc...

Brain Drain: Experiences of fatigue after brain injury Main Image

Brain Drain: Experiences of fatigue after brain injury

Mon 20 May 2019

A study to ascertain the extent to which pathological fatigue can impact life after brain injury.

The results of the Headway survey demonstrate that fatigue is a common and very disabling effect of brain injury.

Despite this, it is clear that there is a distinct lack of understanding of pathological fatigue, leaving brain injury survivors feeling isolated and discriminated against. As a result, 80% of survivors report that their life would be improved if people did have a better understanding.

To put it into perspective, think of an old or damaged smart phone. The battery will likely need charging far more often than a newer model. It will struggle to hold its charge and the most basic of functions can rapidly drain its battery – sometimes causing it to shut down without any warning.

Fatigue can also exacerbate many other cognitive and behavioural effects of brain injury, worsening short-term memory and speech, resulting in increased anger and irritation. This is highlighted by the 88% of our respondents who reported that fatigue effects their behaviour and emotions.

Our findings show that this can lead to breakdowns with relationships, work and social life, and the self-esteem of brain injury survivors.

The survey highlights the need for greater public awareness of how brain injury-related fatigue can affect a person, which Headway aims to do through its Action for Brain Injury Week campaign, Brain Drain: Wake up to fatigue!.

Key findings:


87% of respondents feel that fatigue has a negative impact on their life.

3 in 4

75% of brain injury survivors feel that people in their life do not understand their brain injury-related fatigue.


More than two thirds (69%) of respondents believe that they have been unfairly judged or treated as a result of people not understanding their brain injury-related fatigue.


More than two thirds (68%) of brain injury survivors feel that their romantic relationships have worsened as a result of fatigue.

Download the full study in the related resources section below.


Share this page

Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

© Copyright Headway 2024  -  Site designed and developed by MEDIAmaker