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Road to Recovery

Personal Stories

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 injury.

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 living.

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.

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".

"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 achieved."

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!"


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