Vicious assaults leave long lasting wounds for victims
THE broken bones, cuts and bruises have healed but Ricky Dawson still struggles with injuries that cannot be seen two years after he was viciously assaulted.
The memory is not as good as it used to be. Words come slower. Pains sometimes stab at the back of his eyes. Headaches seize until the painkillers kick in.
The security guard was viciously bashed after disturbing four men involved in a break-in at the Caloundra Australian Rules Football Club on July 29, 2012.
The 55-year-old was lucky to survive after being hit in the head and repeatedly belted with a star picket.
He is now a strong advocate for raising awareness of brain injuries.
On the eve of Brain Injury Awareness Week, Mr Dawson said the impact of brain injuries was often misunderstood by people because such injuries were not visible like physical scars.
"I know myself that I don't think the same. I have trouble trying to remember things and people's names, I forget them all the time. It's lot of little things. It's not things people would see," he said.
Mr Dawson said the nature of brain injuries often made it difficult for people to remember or get to the many appointments and sessions designed to help them.
He admitted he had struggled to accept some of the limits that had been forced upon him.
"People say, 'Ricky, you're not the same person you were before' and I've got to understand that myself," he said.
"I just try and accept everything and try and make things positive."
Michaela Bartonkova, of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said brain injuries could be life-changing.
"In my line of work, we see a lot of clients whose relationships break down because there is a change in the client's personality," Ms Bartonkova said.
- About 1.6 million Australians - one in 12 - are affected by a brain injury.
- Brain Injury Awareness Week runs from August 11 to 17.
- Synapse, an advocacy organisation for those affected by brain disorders, is fundraising through the sale of beanies, t-shirts and temporary tattoos through its Bangonabeanie webstore at synapse.org.au