More than 500 people attended the two HiiD events this month as it returned for the first time since 2019.
Brain injury survivors and healthcare experts from across the UK flocked to the free exhibitions in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
At the events people could access vital information on physical recovery techniques, pioneering new tech, care services and hear inspirational tales from other survivors.
In 2020 and 2021 the HiiD moved to an online-only platform due to COVID safety restrictions but the return of the face-to-face event was welcomed by all – and made all the more poignant as it coincided with Brain Injury Awareness Week 2022.
Chris Stewart, Partner at Digby Brown and host of both HiID events, said:
“It's good to be back at a real life Head Injury Information Day and the fact so many people attended shows people have a real keenness to connect.
“Every day we work to support survivors of serious injuries and a common theme we’re aware of is many services or treatments can be fragmented or impacted by a postcode lottery while others found their treatment or recovery strategies were impacted as society moved in and out of multiple lockdowns.
“HiiD is now more important than ever as we aim to bridge any gaps by centralising the variety of help that’s out there for survivors so they have a better chance to access the right support to aid their recovery and a new way of life.”
A total of 230 people attended the Edinburgh HiiD on Wednesday 11 May at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.
Chiming to the theme of ‘Success and Progress’ guests were free to meet with experts across the healthcare sector and access services from 30 exhibitors.
Those who attended also heard from guest speakers Emma Feesey and Gemma Bromley.
Emma told of her remarkable recovery from a moderate-to-severe brain injury after being hit by a car while cycling home from work.
While Gemma, who had part of her skull removed following a car crash, wrote a book about her journey in a bid to inspire and educate.
After her impassioned speech, Gemma praised the event and said:
“I think it’s such an incredible day actually – really amazing.
“My message is always about breaking the stigma of brain injury and that what everyone is doing today.”
The following week on Wednesday 18 May an even larger crowd flocked to the Doubletree By Hilton in Glasgow for the second HiiD.
Here around 300 people accessed expert support from 34 exhibitors brought together by Digby Brown’s Serious Injury team.
This time attendees heard from brain injury survivors Sheena McDonald and Duran Hunt.
Sheena was a face recognised by many – formerly a national TV news broadcaster she suffered a brain injury after being hit by a police van.
After addressing Glasgow HiiD, Sheena said:
“I’m very humbled after being here today.”
Her husband Alan added: “When you’re in a community like this with so much shared experience, it’s very empowering and motivating… thank you for bringing all these people together.”
Duran, who also suffered a brain injury after a road traffic accident, revealed Glasgow HiiD was the first event of its kind he has ever been to and was delighted to give a motivational talk to guests.
“It has been overwhelming to feel that support from other survivors and carers – it’s a big step for me and I hope one day to be able to do more to help people.”
Head Injury Information Days are the only events of their kind in Scotland.
Since 2011 the annual exhibitions give brain injury survivors and their loved ones the chance to network with other survivors and access information and advice from experts across multiple sectors – including health, social, mobility, therapies, technology and case management support.
Although social distancing protocols halted in-person HiiD events for two years during the COVID pandemic, survivors were still able to access these vital sources of help via online events.
Kirsten Smith, CSR Manager for Digby Brown – a personal injury law firm that helps organise HiiD events – added:
“Our last in-person events were in 2019 and while we sought to maintain support with online events we know nothing compares to the warmth and empathy that can be felt from bringing people together.
“Seeing everyone back in Glasgow and Edinburgh has therefore been nothing short of humbling and we hope there are people out there who now feel informed, supported and empowered as a result.”
Watch the video below to hear from speakers, exhibitors and people who attended the two events.