Cycle crash survivor describes her experience of anosmia

A woman has described the impact of a major head injury, which resulted in a loss of her sense of smell.

Nell Frizzell has written at length for the i newspaper about the after-effects of a cycle crash on a New Zealand highway.

The rider hit her head and sheared her cycle helmet in two, causing concussion and an unexpected side-effect, which made even meal times a difficult process.

Anosmia – the loss or total absence of a person’s sense of smell – is often little understood but, as Ms Frizzell explains, it can have a significant impact on a person’s life.

“Over the course of a scentless year and a half…I was told more times than I care to remember how lucky I was not to have lost my sense of hearing or sight,” she said.

“It is certainly true that the infrastructure of the modern world is made far less accessible to people with those disabilities…

“But comparing conditions is rarely tactful, nor helpful. The fact is, the effect on my emotional landscape, my sense of self, my ability to register risk and my anxiety about everything from BO to burning buildings was considerable.”

Anosmia has a wide variety of causes, from nasal disease to neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Around 15 per cent cases are similar to Ms Frizzell’s in that they are triggered by a head injury.

She notes that the condition poses a number of challenges, although she is lucky that her sense of smell returned more than a year on from the collision. She first noticed this during a walk through woodland in Wales.

“I had smelt something. Something real. Over the next few months as – I assume – the bruising on my brain caused by the injury finally healed, I made a conscious effort to relearn the world of smells.”

  • At Almond Care our staff have the specialist training required to support those living with brain injuries. For further information about our services, please contact us today.