BBC film charts man’s recovery from major brain surgery

The latest instalment of a long-running TV science series has told the story of a man’s battle following a catastrophic brain haemorrhage.

There has been quite a reception for the Horizon episode focused on former soldier Richard Gray.

The ex-serviceman, who had previously battled formidable odds during the Bosnian civil war, faced an entirely different – but no less daunting – challenge after he suffered a stroke in August 2013.

The haemorrhage had left Richard with a large blood clot over part of his brain. Medical experts warned that the life-saving surgery – which involved drilling away a section of the cranium – could have a serious impact on the veteran’s memory and communication skills. It was, however, the only hope of survival.

His wife Fiona said: “There was nothing I could do but wait and hope. Hope the surgeon had the skill to save his life but also hope that if he did survive that Richard – my Richard – would still be there.”

While he did indeed pull through, three months on he had to have further surgery to replace part of the skull which had been removed by surgeons. He also faced a gruelling regime of hydrotherapy, speech therapy and sessions on a driving simulator.

The recovery was often arduous, but more than three years on from his stroke, the courageous former squaddie was finally able to walk unaided once again.

Dr Gerhard Florschutz, a neurosurgeon who helped treat him, believes that the patient’s family were the most important part of his recovery.

“I think one can never underestimate the importance of relatives, particularly the close relatives, as part of the treatment process,” he said.

Journalist Daisy Wyatt, one of those to praise the film for its candid depiction of an often difficult recovery process, said: “Richard’s War is a story about the marvels of modern neurosurgery, but also one of enduring love.

“Throughout his occupational therapy sessions, Fiona can be heard in the background saying: ‘Come on sweetie, you can do it.’ In what must have been some of the darkest times of her life, she remained upbeat.”

My Amazing Brain – Richard’s War is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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