After a 40ft fall, Scott's parents and girlfriend were told that if he survived, he would be in an inpatient facility for two years.
A little bit about Scott
I’m Scott Pearshouse and at the age of 27 in August 2011 I suffered a traumatic brain injury after a fall from 40ft. Along with a TBI, I also suffered fractured cheek bones, multiple cracked ribs, a punctured lung, a broken hand and a fractured coccyx. When I was admitted to hospital I was put into an induced coma and had a tap drilled into my skull to relieve the swelling on my brain. My parents and girlfriend were told that if I survived this, I would be in an inpatient facility for at least two years.
Waking up from my coma
While I lay unconscious for several weeks, my parents began thinking about changing their house to suit 'a new me', adding a wet room and whatever other modifications they might need. When I finally woke, I had lost the ability to walk, read and talk. I didn’t recognise my girlfriend of 4 years and what I could remember was limited to me as a 16-year-old.
In the early days there were many stages to my recovery. I had aphasia for a period, I was put under 24-hour care as I couldn’t walk but would constantly try to get out of bed. I had lost the ability to acknowledge when I needed the toilet, and I couldn’t wash or feed myself. There was a period where I was awake but not really there.
I spoke in accents, was loud, made random jokes, and was a completely different person to the one I had been.
Doctors said that this was common for people who had a blow to the left side of their head. The things I saw were almost dreamlike. I remember parts of the hospital that didn’t exist and grew confused and scared being surrounded by nurses constantly. Slowly things started to come back to me, my memory started to come back, I woke from the dreamlike state, and with intense rehab I learnt to walk again.
I stayed for a brief period in a live-in facility, then my girlfriend left her job to become my full-time carer and I was able to come home. I was in hospital for little over 17 weeks before returning home to start cognitive rehabilitation. Upon release, the doctor signing me out said I was a 'miracle'. They had not seen a lot of people recover at this rate, if at all, from a head injury of this scale. I count my lucky stars for only being a patient for such a short time, but it's been my recovery and time since the accident that I'd say was more miraculous.
Following my hospital release
I was in rehab for around 6 months and just as I was about to complete and return to work, I was made redundant from my job in construction as an engineer.
Although I had completed rehab, I had been told that many people with a TBI of my scale would often not return to their jobs, struggle with day-to-day tasks, and need to come to terms with a very different life. I had a year off in total. During that time, I worked hard to prove the doctors wrong. They said I would struggle physically, so I threw myself into everything I could: cycling everywhere and training for events like ‘Tough Mudder’, an intense physical obstacle course. I still struggled with the left side of my body being weaker, but I wouldn’t let this stop me.
When it came to accepting what work had in store for me, I found life difficult to comprehend and couldn’t accept a different me. I applied for jobs but getting a role wasn’t the hard part; keeping the job while my brain was still recovering was.
I changed careers a few times, leaned on old contacts, and landed a job I was able to hold down. Again, not accepting what the past had said about TBI survivors, I decided to study part-time for a Quantity Surveying degree (in 2013) whilst still trying to maintain employment. I completed my degree and achieved a 2:1 grading in 2016. The highlight for me was holding down employment and gaining sponsoring for the university fees along with a first-class honour for my dissertation. I also studied for my Chartership and in 2019 I achieved professional membership status first time round.
The ups and downs of life after brain injury
During all of this I married the lady that stood by me through these dark times; my rock and purpose and the reason why I have pushed through boundaries I honestly didn't think were possible to get through. There have been new challenges throughout the 12 years and new phases I have had to overcome. I have struggled with anger and keeping it under control. I lost my ‘filter’ for a while and said things exactly how I saw them. Change hits me hard: finishing intense studies, moving house, Covid, lockdown, and having a daughter. I have to navigate each challenge as it comes up.
Luckily, I have my wife by my side to help and now my daughter, Penelope, to give me another reason for pushing through boundaries.
I don't know how or when or if I've ever recovered from my TBI. I eat well, I exercise regularly to keep my mind active and keep a routine, and I meditate to clear the noise when it gets too much. I've just finished a four-month CBT therapy course. It has helped massively to talk to a professional about the past 12 years and the ups and downs I’ve been through. I am thankful every day for the accident, when I really think about it... It made me a better person, I know what I can overcome. I know who’s important to me and I know how precious life is.
I am one of the lucky ones and I hope to be able to help in any way someone who has been through a similar situation to me. Life might never be the same again, it might just be better.