Oliver Game, 27, from Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex, was just 20-years-old when the motorcycle he had been riding collided with a car at a crossroads, leaving him with near fatal head injuries and a life-changing brain injury.
"Before my accident, I had been working as part of the maintenance team at Colchester Zoo," said Oliver.
"The day that changed my life started as just a normal day. I suffered major internal injuries in the crash and was left with a severe brain injury."
Oliver was rushed to Colchester General Hospital where he spent three weeks in a coma before being transferred to a general hospital ward for a further five months.
"As a result of my brain injury, I can't remember the past seven or eight years of my life," said Oliver. "It's difficult to describe how odd it feels to be 20 years old and feel as though you have lost more than a quarter of your life in an instant.
"I couldn't talk or walk in the early stages of my recovery.
"All I can remember from my time in hospital are things like my Mum and Dad taking me to the cafeteria for a meal and being showered by two lady nurses."
Even when Oliver was well enough to be discharged from hospital, the next six months of his life were spent at the regional neurological rehabilitation unit at Homerton Hospital where he worked hard to relearn basic life skills he had lost following his brain injury.
Slowly, Oliver rebuilt his language skills, though for a long time he needed a wheelchair to move around.
"The right-hand side of my body was most affected by my brain injury," said Oliver.
"My right leg and arm were weak and I suffered from poor vision in my right eye.
"My Mum and Dad were fantastic. They visited me every day while I was in hospital and they've always been there for me. I know my accident and brain injury has been the worst thing that has ever happened to them.
"While I was in hospital, it was my Mum who learned about Headway Essex from the Colchester Brain Injury Specialist Nurse. It didn't take long before I had been assessed and started going to the Headway group's support sessions in Colchester."
With the help of Headway Essex, Oliver slowly began to rebuild his life.
I have now attended the centre for three years and it has played such a big role in my rehabilitation
"Headway Essex worked with me to strengthen my body's right-hand side. While at the centre I also worked on my computer skills and building up strength of eye co-ordination.
"I still struggle with memory problems, and I've also lost my sense of smell and most of my sense of taste - so spicy curries are my favourite food now!
"My language skills are often still a problem and I have to think before I speak to make sure the words come out properly. Finding the correct words can be frustrating at times."
However, Oliver has now returned to working at the zoo four mornings a week - this time as a painter. For Oliver, regaining this sense of purpose has been one of the greatest achievements in his recovery so far.
"My employers were great holding a job open for me," said Oliver.
"Headway Essex has been largely responsible for helping me get me to this point. Since my accident, I have lost touch with a lot of people, but I made many new and close friends at the charity's sessions.
"The staff and volunteers are brilliant and we always managed to have a laugh. Through attending Headway Essex, I have learned a lot about how the brain works and why my injury has affected me the way it has. It's been amazing to meet so many different people who have gone through such different experiences. Headway brings people together and makes everyone feel they belong.
"I take every day as it comes now and try not to look at the bad things that have happened to me. When I was finally able to get out of my wheelchair, I was determined to live life to the full.
"Headway Essex and my parents have helped me to do that. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if they hadn't been there for me."
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