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Linton speedway rider Sam Norris speaks at Headway Suffolk conference of support with brain injury during lockdown

A teenage speedway rider from Linton has spoken of the support he received to help him study at home with a brain injury during lockdown, to mark Headway Suffolk’s campaign for Action for Brain Injury Week.

Sam Norris, 17, suffered a life-threatening brain injury in a crash in Glasgow in June 2019, but his incredible recovery and determination saw him back on a bike just eight months later.

After returning home from intense rehab to continue his recovery, Sam went back to school to complete his final year and GCSEs, but soon had to get used to home studying as lockdown began.

Sam and Claire Norris speaking at Headway Suffolk's Neuro Conference on May 12.
Sam and Claire Norris speaking at Headway Suffolk's Neuro Conference on May 12.

Sam had help from his mum Claire and the Cambridge Centre for Paediatric Neuropsychological Rehabilitation (CCPNR) - the first NHS community-based service in the UK offering assessment and neuropsychological rehabilitation for children with an acquired, non-progressive brain injury as a result of an accident, injury, illness or other condition.

He said: “Throughout lockdown I was lucky enough to be supported by the CCPNR. I had weekly Microsoft teams meetings around supporting and managing my fatigue and emotions and looking and understanding how it affected me physically, emotionally, and cognitively.

“Things suddenly appeared to make sense as it is hard to understand why you feel the way you do as I felt okay within myself most of the time.

Sam Norris
Sam Norris

“I still walk and talk differently now. My eyes display when I am fatigued and the way I speak alters and I have a language disorder.

“My thought process slows down, but I fight it every step of the way, but to people who do not know the old Sam they would never know what I have been through.”

After passing two of his exams, Sam is now studying motor mechanics at Cambridge Regional College and plans to move up to level 2 in September.

Sam Norris. Picture by Mark Westley.
Sam Norris. Picture by Mark Westley.

“Lockdown was hard looking at a screen three days a week as it affected my fatigue,” he added, “so I am glad we are sort of getting back to normal.”

Headway’s ‘A life of lockdown?’ campaign until May 23, focuses on social isolation after brain injury - a problem that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The campaign aims to give a voice to survivors and carers to help them better explain to their friends and families the challenges they face as a result of brain injury.

Sam and Claire, who made their first public speaking appearance at Headway Suffolk’s Neuro Conference, were key speakers at the May 12 event.

The video of their speech is available to purchase for £15 to support the charity’s services.

The three-hour video also features presentations made at the conference from Dawn Astle, a prominent campaigner to prevent dementia in football, Dr Sajid Alam, the stroke lead at Ipswich Hospital, and Ellen Boucher, researcher at the University of East Anglia’s SCORES project.

To buy the video, call 01473 712225 or email info@headwaysuffolk.org.uk, for more on Headway’s Action for Brain Injury Week campaign, click here.

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