Brain injury causes woman’s head to turn 180 degrees and face backwards

A traumatic brain injury caused a woman's head to turn 180 degrees and face backwards.

Sarah Coughlin realised her head was facing the wrong after staring at her car's rear view window.

The 37-year-old discovered her head was twisted after suffering from a headache all week.

At first, she was told it was due to her sleeping-position, only to later be diagnosed with a life-changing brain condition.

Sarah Coughlin, from Fazakerley, suffered a head injury in 2014 while working as a teaching assistant, reports Echo.

Initially there didn’t seem to be much wrong other than a headache that persisted through the week, but five days after the injury when Sarah woke up late and rushed into her car, she realised her head had twisted 180 degrees and she was staring at her rear view window.

She said: “I could feel this searing pain through my shoulders and my back.

“I was wondering why my windscreen had black lines across it, until I realised I was looking out of my back window.

“It was quite difficult to turn my head back around and keep it there but after a while I managed it, though the pain did not go away.

“I thought I had just slept funny and once I had properly woken up the sore neck would probably calm down. But when I got to work I still felt awful.

“I went to A&E every week for three months because the pain wouldn’t go away and I was still getting neck spasms.

"I was told it could have been a slipped disc, a muscle injury or had slept awkward. It changed each time.

“I was in agony constantly, but I still wasn’t diagnosed for at least another two years.”

At first only Sarah’s neck and walking were affected, but over the course of a year she developed spasms, optical neuralgia, pressure on the occipital nerve which runs through the neck up into the scalp, causing tremors, fits, paralysis and fatigue.

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Eventually, she was diagnosed with dystonia – a condition which causes involuntary muscle spasms which is what had made her head rotate.

Doctors also told her she had a Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), the name given for a variety of medically unexplained neurological symptoms which appear to be caused by problems in the nervous system but which are not caused by a physical disease.

Sarah’s conditions changed her life; she could no longer drive do the job she loved or take part in the same social activities as before, lost touch with many of her friends and hardly left the house as she was scared of people staring at her and judging her for the way she walked and moved.

The 37-year-old added: “I used to be quite fiercely independent – so to go from doing so much to not being able to do anything was the hardest transition.

“I felt a real sense of loss for the life I had when I was first diagnosed.”

In 2017 Sarah discovered The Brain Charity, a national charity headquartered in Liverpool city centre which provides practical help, counselling and social activities for people with all forms of neurological condition.

She is now supporting The Brain Charity’s #Sixmas appeal to raise £6,000 this December to support the 1 in 6 people with neurological conditions.

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She said: “There’s lots of things I can’t do anymore but The Brain Charity has freed me from staring at four walls.

“I am supporting the Sixmas campaign because The Brain Charity helped me achieve goals that without them I wouldn’t be able to do.

“It seems obvious, but the more money people donate, the more people the charity can give the vital support I found so important. I want other people to have that place that is safe and secure, in an environment with people who have had similar experiences."

This year, The Brain Charity has faced a 70% surge in referrals due to Covid-19, despite many fundraising events being cancelled.

The organisation is asking people from all over the UK to organise and participate in a sponsored virtual or covid-safe activity event themed around the number six, to highlight the fact one in six people has a neurological condition.

Supporters and fundraisers can shout about their donation or fundraising on social media using the hashtags #Sixmas, #ShareWithSix and #SupportingThe1in6 before nominating six friends to do the same.

Sign up as a fundraiser: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/sixmas

Make a donation: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/14666

Read more about #Sixmas: https://www.thebraincharity.org.uk/whats-on/sixmas-appeal

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