A documentary on brain injury, filmed by famous broadcaster Louis Theroux, has featured a family from south east Cornwall and is now available on Netflix.
‘Worth every minute of filming’ – that’s what Cornwall’s Rob Barnard says about a newly-streamed Louis Theroux documentary focusing on family life as he and their two small sons come to terms with his wife’s serious brain injury.
Rob has taken part in the filming of A Different Brain, which was broadcast on the BBC last year and is now available on Netflix.
The documentary focused on people who live with brain injuries, often referred to as a ‘hidden disability’. People affected can face enormous cognitive, behavioural and personality challenges even though sometimes few physical signs of change are shown.
But Amanda’s and Rob’s story, both from St Cleer near Liskeard, was one of the most moving of the show. Amanda is a former veterinary nurse. Her life completely changed when she fell of a horse during a ride.
“The person [Rob] married died the day I fell off that horse”, she told Theroux. “I am what’s left and I don’t think I’m enough.”
During the show, Rob explained that Amanda’s emotions changed during the accident.
“Your emotions are quite flat”, he told his wife in front of Theroux’s camera. “And I do notice that things annoy you more. I mean, you’ve always said you lost your ‘squishy’ side.”
Speaking one year on, Rob said he was very pleased to let a film crew and Theroux into their lives, even though the programme reveals the devastating effects of brain injury on emotions and behaviour for all concerned.
He said: “We very much enjoyed being involved. For us as a family it gave the ability to show just a very small amount of how our lives have changed since Amanda’s accident.”
In the documentary, Amanda was shown adapting to her return to the family home after many months in a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) Woodmill centre in Cullompton, Devon.
She has now moved out to her own place in St Cleer with support from carers.
“When Amanda went into the Woodmill she couldn’t get out of bed or walk unaided”, Rob explained. “When she left The Woodmill she was at the point of being almost independent and just needing support at home.
“She has improved in many ways [since the original broadcast] with the great help of a support team, she is now doing much more than she was.”
The Barnards were one of four stories about living with brain injury and all of them were well received, with over three million views nationally.
Louis Theroux said: “I have very fond memories of making the programme and of the experience of getting to know all the contributors.
“It takes a special kind of courage to allow someone into your life and trust them to tell your story – and even more so when you have gone through something as life-changing as a brain injury.”