Road to Recovery
Andrew Cottle is a jeans, boots and t-shirt
wearing, get in and live life kinda guy. He loves live music, a
workout at the gym, his down hill mountain bike, his friends and
his social life.
Two years ago Andrew was travelling as a front seat passenger in
a car waiting for the lights to change. But before they turned
green his world was plunged into darkness. He awoke, two weeks
later, his family and friends close by his side, unable to talk or
recognise them for the following month. Andrew had acquired a brain
A MEDICAL MIRACLE
As the weeks went by he was told he may never walk again and had
sustained severe brain damage that could never be repaired. Andrew
had to be fed, washed, dressed and taught to do the simplest things
in life that we all take for granted such as cleaning his teeth.
This was followed by another ten weeks in hospital. His life as
Andrew Cottle, the Andrew that he knew, was erased.
Today he is back living in the community and, against all odds, he
is walking. In two years he has astounded the medical profession
with the strength of his recovery and Andrew is delighted to be
To the world he is another medical miracle as he begins to put his
life back together and pursue his dreams. What the world doesn't
see is that the brain injury has become an invisible disability
that has made every living day a formidable barrier. Andrew is now
doing his best to live life but getting back on the road for him
was one of the hardest things he has ever done. To do this he had
to re-sit his driving tests and be taught to drive with his
disability over many months before he could drive on his own.
Andrew has become passionate about safety issues and helping
others to recover from brain injuries. He talks about this and how
the dream is becoming a reality.
THE INVISIBLE DISABILITY
Despite his unexpected recovery, Andrew still struggles many of
the issues that can result after a brain injury, including fatigue,
planning, memory, handling social interaction and organising.
Acquired brain injury is often called the invisible disability as
people may appear completely recovered in the physical sense yet
still be reeling from the cognitive after effects.
"To the world I am another medical miracle as I begin to put my
life back together and pursue my dreams. What the world doesn't see
is that the brain injury has become an invisible disability that
has made every living day of my life a formidable barrier. My road
to recovery is by far the greatest challenge of my life".
AVOIDING FURTHER INJURY
"There are over 74 000 Queenslanders living with an acquired brain
injury. I'm one of them. I am now back on the road two years post
injury and after many weeks of driving rehab to regain confidence
to be behind the wheel. The first and most pressing decision was
the prevention of another head injury. Many months post injury 29
doctors and rehabilitation personnel have all given the same
advice- "Don't have another head injury. Each adds to the previous
one due to the fact that you will never fully recover from the
first". Ok I tell myself. If I now need to think twice, even three
times before attempting daily things like riding my mountain bike
or crossing the road, I should consider the place where this all
started- travelling in a motor vehicle".
"I realised I needed a safe car and as Volvos are built from the
ground up with safety in mind, it seemed the logical place to
start. I'm now the proud owner of a car that in many ways fits the
above description. My personal goal is now to undertake the
promotion of a self driven dream, vehicle safety. Driving for most
people is a daily activity. But it is an activity that results in
far more brain injuries across Australia than any other type of
travel, sport or work. If I can help prevent one person from going
through what I have been through, my goal will then be
A VISION FOR THE FUTURE
In conjunction with the Brain Injury Association of Queensland,
Andrew has helped to shape the Road to Recovery Project which aims
to provide dignified and affordable accommodation lifestyle support
and rehabilitation for people disabled by acquired brain injury. He
has made his own financial contribution to the project and actively
seeks sponsors to provide others with hope for the future.
"I want to assure those with a brain injury due to a motor vehicle
accident, that getting back on the road is possible. Become safety
conscious, particularly if you already have a brain injury. Whether
it is wearing a bicycle helmet or buying a Volvo, make your safety
a central theme. I'm not saying you should stop living life. I
still wear jeans , boots and t-shirts, love live rock bands and
riding hard core on my mountain bike. But I also choose to live the
rest of my life without further brain injury!"