A Newcastle dad-of-two has been forced to give up his career in dentistry after suffering life-changing injuries in a horror bike crash.
Mark Hanlon, 56, from Gosforth, was left with a catalogue 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 when out cycling.
He underwent surgery and spent a number of weeks in hospital following the incident which happened on the A696 near Belsay in Northumberland.
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Mark, who ran a dental practice before the accident, instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, which secured him an undisclosed settlement from the driver’s insurers, to help him access the specialist rehabilitation and therapies he required because of his injuries.
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.”
Unfortunately the collision cost Mark his career, as he has been forced to give up his share in a dental practice he part-owned. He 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.
Mark, who has been married to Lisa, 49, 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.
Before the incident Mark took part in endurance events including triathlons, ironman competitions and marathons. Because of ongoing hip pain he has now had to stop running.
As part of his recovery Mark has been supported by a case manager, neurophysiotherapist, neuropsychologist and occupational therapist. Irwin Mitchell’s commercial business team has also advised him regarding giving up his share in the business he owned.
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.
He said: “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.”
Laura Mcilduff, the expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing Mark and his wife, Lisa 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.”
Action for Brain Injury Week runs from May 16-22 and is supported by the charity Headway. This year’s campaign is entitled The Hidden Me and aims to raise awareness of the often misunderstood symptoms of brain injury.
For more information visit www.headway.org.uk