This section provides a range of information to help you access support during the coronavirus outbreak. It includes details of Headway's services, as well as links to information that will help you to cope with the additional difficulties that may arise.
The health, social and economic impact of coronavirus, or Covid-19, cannot be understated.
At Headway, we understand that the ever-changing environment, in which social change is happening at an unprecedented pace, is causing significant concern to individuals and families affected by brain injury.
We know that routine can be very important to some people living with the long-term effects of brain injury, with social isolation often exacerbating its behavioural, emotional and psychological effects.
Social isolation can also put great strain on families, particularly if they are poorly and required to self-quarantine.
We’re here for you and will continue to provide as much support as we can during this incredibly challenging time.
On this page:
Covid-19 frequently asked questions
Am I at increased risk of contracting Covid-19 as I have a brain injury?
The current guidelines do not necessarily identify someone with an acquired brain injury as a high risk. However, the risk may be higher for some, depending on factors such as other underlying health conditions that may or may not be related to your brain injury, or any medications that you may be on.
Neurological conditions and their treatment may affect susceptibility to COVID-19 in a number of different ways. Most of the conditions or treatments that increase susceptibility to COVID-19 are those that suppress the immune system.
Additionally, since Covid-19 is a disease of the lungs and airways, if your brain injury has affected swallowing or breathing this might increase the severity of COVID-19 infection.
If you feel that you fit into any of these categories or have been prescribed medication that may suppress the immune system, then you need to speak to your GP.
Should I have the Covid-19 vaccine when it is offered to me?
We asked Peter Hutchinson, Professor of Neurosurgery at University of Cambridge, to explain whether those affected by brain injury should get the Covid-19 vaccine.
He said: “People living with neurological conditions, including acquired brain injury, often have underlying health and social conditions that make them more susceptible to contracting the virus and put them at greater risk of becoming seriously ill as a result.
“The vaccines have all been extensively tested and shown to be safe. As with other vaccines, including for flu, there are some common side effects and it is advised that anyone with allergies seeks advice from their GP before proceeding.
“The vaccination programme offers the best opportunity to protect us all from this virus, with priority being given to the most vulnerable in society. I encourage all brain injury survivors and carers to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity."
What are the current Covid-19 restrictions and what can I do?
You can check the latest Covid-19 restrictions on the gov.uk website. Everyone should follow the guidance given here to help control the spread of the virus and protect you and your loved ones.
What are the signs and symptoms of Covid-19?
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19) include a new continuous cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, and/or a fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater).
If you have any of these symptoms you should stay at home and quarantine (not have visitors) until you get the result - only leave home to have the test. Anyone in your support bubble should also remain at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
How we can help
Our helpline will remain open to anyone who requires support or information about brain injury. The team cannot answer medical questions about the virus and won’t be able to offer advice on any symptoms related to it, but they can offer reassurance and a friendly voice.
Contact the helpline by calling 0808 800 2244 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The charity’s online forum, HealthUnlocked, is a community for anyone affected by brain injury. It provides you with a chance to connect and share with people who understand brain injury and its effects in a friendly, safe and mutually supportive environment.
Headway groups and branches may have changed or suspended their face-to-face services in accordance with the government’s advice – but they are determined to do all they can to find alternative ways to support those who rely on their help.
If you are currently being supported by a local Headway group or branch, you should be able to contact them via the usual telephone or email addresses, although please be aware that there may be a delay answering your enquiries.
Some groups have a greater chance of severe illness as a result of coronavirus, which affects lungs and airways. These groups include those over the age of 70, people who are pregnant, and those with certain underlying health conditions.
We urge everyone to strictly follow the government’s advice given on the gov.uk website. This includes guidance on living with a vulnerable person, advice for formal carers, and advice for informal carers.
- Regular and thorough hand washing with soap and water
- Cough and sneeze into tissues – and then immediately dispose of them
- Do not touch your face with unwashed hands
- Immediately self-isolate, along with all members of your household, if you present any symptoms such as a new continuous cough or a high temperature above 37.8C
- Use the NHS 111 online service if you are unsure of what you should do
- Look after your wellbeing and mental health. The charity Mind has some useful guidance on its website
Please be assured that throughout this period of uncertainty and challenge, we will do everything we can to offer support. You are not alone.
The links below provide some useful information for people who are affected by brain injury: