After suffering a severe head injury in a motorcycle incident, Grant Wilde was airlifted to hospital to receive emergency surgery. His wife, Ruth kindly tells us more...

On 4th June 2019, Grant was heading east on his motorcycle towards Middle Wallop, where he worked as an Army Consultant in Aviation Medicine. Unfortunately, a car turned right across the A36 and gave Grant no time to brake or take avoiding action, which caused him to collide with the passenger side of the car.

As Grant was thrown off the bike, his left wrist went through the car windscreen and he landed on the road 15 metres away. He was immediately knocked unconscious due to having a severe head injury, which caused bleeding on both sides of his brain.

The first people on scene were Army personnel who helped control traffic. Then a GP and two nurses on their way to work arrived. They helped to protect Grant’s airway until the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) arrived.

Grant doesn’t remember the accident. He does not even remember the year leading up to it or until four months afterwards, but we have spoken to one of the crew members and others who were at the scene to help piece things together.

We know that the DSAA team arrived before the land ambulance and were able to intubate Grant to protect his airway; they gave him fluids, antibiotics and a strong salty solution to help reduce the pressure that was building in his head due to the bleed. They then
safely and swiftly airlifted him to Southmead Hospital in Bristol. There, he received the emergency surgery he needed, within just four hours of the accident.

Grant spent three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit in Southmead, then a further five weeks on the Neuro Ward, before being moved to the Military Rehabilitation Facility in the Midlands. After a total of four months in hospital, we brought Grant home to continue his rehabilitation with the support of Hobbs Specialist Neuro-Rehabilitation, Southwest branch.

Grant has made an amazing recovery, which has exceeded the expectations of experienced clinicians who work regularly with patients with traumatic brain injuries. He has been committed and determined throughout and continues to make progress beyond the two-year point, post-accident. When Grant came home from hospital, he was unable to manage walking more than a few steps and needed help with all elements of personal care. Most days, he was still confused and disoriented and didn’t believe he had been involved in an accident at all!

Grant has lasting visual impairment due to his head injury and is unlikely to practise medicine, drive or fly again, but he finds satisfaction and pleasure in many other activities. He is now able to walk unlimited distances around the beautiful Somerset countryside and is back to lifting weights in the gym, using his Apple IT gadgets, baking, studying bee-keeping as a new aviation-related hobby – and who knows what else the future holds? As a couple, we have been on an incredible journey and now that Grant is so much better, we plan to make a fresh start and move abroad – onwards to chapter three of our lives!

I was contacted very early on after Grant’s accident by DSAA’s patient and family liaison team, but at that stage, I couldn’t think beyond getting myself up, washed and dressed and to the hospital to be at Grant’s bedside. About four months ago, Grant and I both felt that we wanted to contact the team to find out a few more details about the day of the accident itself, but mostly to thank them for the crucial part they played in his recovery.

I started to speak with Jo Petheram, one of DSAA’s Patient and Family Liaison Nurses, who was able to answer some of the questions that we had. She then arranged a wonderful visit to the airbase where we were able to meet some of the team. With Grant’s aviation background, he was delighted to have the chance to sit in the aircraft, although this time he wasn’t a patient, thankfully! It was a positive, healing experience for both of us.

As a careful and experienced motorcycle rider, Grant feels passionately that there is a need to raise awareness and improve safety for all drivers on the road. During our visit to the airbase, Grant had the chance to give an interview to Motorcycle News to further support this cause. Life continues to be full of challenges for us both, but it is full of joy and gratitude. Grant and I are grateful every day that due to his fantastic recovery, we have been given a second chance, an opportunity to grow closer as a couple and to reassess what is really important to us. There have been some very dark times on this road and we know that others will be going through this too in their own way, so we wanted to share our story primarily to inspire hope.

After an accident like Grant’s, every link in the chain of survival matters to ensure the best possible outcome. DSAA was one of those very important links; our heartfelt thanks go to the whole team, for helping to save Grant’s life!

Why sharing Grant's story was so important to us

Sharing Grant’s story has given us both a chance to reflect on how far he has come and has been an important part of the healing process for us as a couple. We now realise that Grant’s accident has been a catalyst for change for the better for both of us. We have had so much incredible support on our journey and are looking for ways to ‘pay this forward’, in hope that we can pass on hope and inspiration to others in the midst of their challenges.

NEXT: Hugo's Story

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