Dentist’s determination to overcome life-changing brain injury suffered in crash

Mark Hanlon suffered a life-changing injury and is determined to look to the future, using the experience as a way of making others aware that support is available

A dentist who suffered a life-changing brain injury after being knocked off of his bike has said he is determined to look at the future after his lawyers secured him a settlement.

Mark Hanol from Gosforth, Newcastle, suffered a series of injuries including a bleed on the brain, a fractured spine and serious internal injuries when a car crashed into the back of his bike.

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The father-of-two underwent surgery and spent a number of weeks in hospital following the accident, which happened on the A696 near Belsay in Northumberland.

Mark, 56, instructed injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him access the specialist rehabilitation and therapies he requires because of his injuries.

Mark unfortunately had to give up his career at a dental practice he part-owned and is now using Action for Brain Injury Week to speak for the first time about his battle to overcome his injuries and raise awareness of the support available.

It comes after his legal team at Irwin Mitchell secured him an undisclosed settlement from the driver’s insurers.

Laura Mcilduff, the expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mark and his wife, Lisa, 49, said: “Mark suffered incredibly serious and life-changing injuries through no fault of his own in the collision.

“The last few years trying to come to terms with those injuries has been tough not only for him but also his family. While Mark has made tremendous progress in his recovery through access to rehabilitation, he still faces many challenges.

“While nothing can make up for what he’s been through we’re pleased that we’ve been able to secure this settlement which ensures Mark can continue to access the rehabilitation and support he requires to make the best recovery possible.

“We join him in supporting Action for Brain Injury Week and raising awareness of how the hidden symptoms of brain injury can remain long after the physical injuries have disappeared.

“Mark’s story is also a vivid reminder of the consequences vulnerable road users such as cyclists can face because of the actions of others and the need to take care at all times.”

Mark, who has been married to Lisa for 22 years, was cycling alone when his bike was hit in June 2018. He was wearing a cycling helmet which Mark says undoubtedly saved his life.

He also suffered several fractures, including to his left hip and right leg as well as a torn left ear, severe cuts to his head, broken teeth and whiplash.

Mark continues to suffer with concentration, memory, fatigue, anxiety issues especially relating to traffic, and also has difficulty learning and processing information. He also has restricted movement, and struggles to multi-task like he did before.

Hanlon has spoken about the accident for the first time and hopes that by speaking out he makes people aware of the help and support available to them

He said: “In some respects I’m quite fortunate as I’m not able to remember the collision. I remember being out on my bike and the next thing I was in hospital a few days later. Even then my memory of being in hospital is quite vague.

“Many people leave hospital and start to move forward but that was just the start for me. Trying to come to terms with my injuries and what the future may or may not hold was particularly difficult not only for me but also my family.

“Each week as well as running a dental practice, I’d gone from training 200 miles on a bike, running around 30 miles, swimming four times and weight training in the gym several times, to facing an uncertain future.

“However, I drew on that determination and refused to let my injuries prevent me from taking part in what I loved.

“I’m back out cycling but never go out alone now, and I need to ensure there are a lot of breaks in there because of my fatigue. The distances are now shorter and the routes need to be planned in detail in advance but I am now able to enjoy cycling again.

“Giving up my career as a dentist has also been very difficult to accept but I try to look on the positives and have been looking at various training programmes and vocational courses around becoming a bike mechanic.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way and it’s not always been easy, but I’ve made such progress thanks to the professional help and support I’ve had, and also especially from my family and close friends.

“I just hope that by speaking out people who may be in a similar situation don’t feel they have to go through it alone. Help and support is available.”