Jake defies brain injury to take on 900 mile cycle
Jake Allison was riding his motorcycle close to his home in Hampshire when a car pulled out of a side road into his path. The then 32-year-old was knocked off his bike and collided head-first with the front wheel of the defendant’s vehicle, sustaining very serious and permanent head injuries. After ten days in a coma, Jake woke up to find he’d also suffered from several broken ribs – which had punctured both lungs – a broken pelvis, broken vertebrae in his neck and lower back, and required machine-controlled ventilation and a blood transfusion.
Nine years on, Jake is still living with the effects of his accident today. The majority of his injuries are neurological, meaning the accident has changed the course of his life dramatically. Jake was unable to continue in his role as a computer programmer and was subsequently forced to consider an alternative career.
“After my accident, I had to give up my job, but with the support of Minster Law, I’ve now opened up my own dog walking business,” explains Jake. “This has given me more flexibility in managing my days, and I have time to look after my eight huskies alongside my business. My day-to-day routine is the complete opposite of what I was doing before – I now have the opportunity to spend more time out in the fresh air which makes it easier to live with my difficulties.”
Jake’s settlement means he is able to receive ongoing support in the form of neuropsychology when he needs it. “Minster Law secured interim payments for me quickly after my accident, which was extremely important and a huge support – I was in hospital for six months so I had no way of making a living,” explains Jake.
The long-term implications of Jake’s brain injury have seen him notice a change in personality, as well as difficulties with his balance and coordination. “I haven’t been back on a motorcycle since my accident,” continues Jake. “Even if I wanted to, I think I’d fall off because my brain injury affects my coordination. Breaking my pelvis in the accident has resulted in me having one leg shorter than the other, which has contributed to my imbalance.”
However, Jake’s inspirational determination to not let his brain injury hold him back was demonstrated when he completed a 300-mile cycle ride from Land’s End to Andover in 2009.
“It was an extremely challenging yet fulfilling achievement,” says Jake. “I trained by doing 25, 50, then 100-mile rides over several months to prepare. Balance was the biggest issue, followed by concentration. Remembering to unlock my feet from the pedals before stopping took a few falls before it became second nature.”
Jake explains how following his team mates along the way was also a great support. “I would have got lost and struggled to maintain the effort to continue cycling without their encouragement,” he says. The gruelling cycle was done over two-and-a-half days, so there was plenty of time for Jake to recover physically in-between days.
The ride has inspired Jake to cycle 900 miles from John o’ Groats to Land’s End this summer. “The difference between this ride and the last is there will be a professional back up support team,” says Jake. “Although missing out on the camaraderie of friends this time will make it harder. My friend completed the ride in five days, whereas I expect it would take me five days to cycle one way, due to my injury.” Jake is aiming to raise as much as possible for the brain injury charity, Headway, in the process.
Reflecting on his accident and his journey with Minster Law, Jake says: “I’d just like to thank Jonathan Bamforth and the rest of the team at Minster Law. Without their help I wouldn’t have been able to progress and achieve as much as I have today.”
Read more about Jake’s story here.