Aycliffe woman left with brain injury after cycling accident near Darlington

Melanie Varley from Newton Aycliffe represented Britain on the world stage in triathlon and before her life changing accident was on the first qualifying race list to compete for Team GB Veterans at the 2018 European Championships.

Melanie was on a group ride down a steep downhill road when another rider performed a now-banned maneuver and lost control of his bike, causing her to be thrown off her bike.

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Just before the collision near Piercebridge, Darlington in 2017, she had told the lead driver to slow down as others in the group were falling behind.

She spent five days in the hospital with injuries including a broken spine, multiple fractures to her right shoulder, a collapsed lung and nerve damage.

After further testing, Melanie, a self-employed osteopath who had to go out of business, was diagnosed with a brain injury.

As she spoke for the first time, she recalled how her life changed in a split second.

The Northern Echo: Melanie VarleyMelanie Varley (Image: PR)

The 55-year-old said: “I remember we were on a steep incline and we were standing next to the driver when I saw him go into a super tuck. Next they lost control and the bike collided with me.”

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The super tuck is a move in which a rider sits on the top tube of the bike rather than the saddle and leans forward, often with their chest on the handlebars. The UCI, the governing body of cycling, has banned the Super Tuck in 2021.

Melanie added: “I must have briefly lost consciousness because when I came to I was standing on the side of the road and I felt pain straight away. I remember people around me and a paramedic giving me some pain relief and that was it. The next thing I remember was the hospital stay.

“Before the accident, I was used to living a fast life and spinning a lot of plates; my career, my physical training, domestic tasks, social contacts and being a mother.

“However, all of that changed in a split second.

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“Initially, I thought that once I received treatment and had some time to recover from my injuries, I would do all of these things again. However, I was nowhere near able to do the things I enjoyed.

“Not only was I struggling with my physical injuries, I kept mentioning that I struggled with headaches, dizziness and fatigue. When the diagnosis of a brain injury was finally made, it was an odd relief because at least I recognized my symptoms and was able to get treatment.

“It is still difficult to adjust to life after the accident. One of the hardest things I had to come to terms with was giving up my business. I’m still suffering from weakness in my arm but I feel like my brain isn’t working the way it used to. I’m beginning to make progress but have trouble processing information, maintaining focus and unable to multitask.”

Melanie, who volunteered for the Territorial Army and qualified as an Army Physical Training Instructor, underwent limited physical therapy for her shoulder injuries.

After her accident, she hired lawyers to take on her case, who helped her reach an undisclosed settlement to fund her rehabilitation.

Laura Mcilduff, Irwin Mitchell’s Criminal Injury Attorney, who is representing Melanie, said: “Melanie has had an incredibly difficult few years trying to come to terms with what happened. It was only after further examinations that the full extent of her life-changing injuries could be determined. This affects not only her, but also her family.

“While nothing can make up for what she’s been through, we’re delighted to have secured this settlement for Melanie. Having access to rehabilitation is making progress in her recovery and this agreement ensures she can continue to do so.”

She has spoken out at Action for Brain Injury Week, which runs through May 21 and is supported by charity Headway.

This year’s campaign is titled ‘Take a Second’ and focuses on how it can take just seconds for someone’s life to be transformed by a brain injury. Visit www.headway.org.uk for more information

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/23524331.aycliffe-woman-left-brain-injury-bike-crash-near-darlington/?ref=rss Aycliffe woman left with brain injury after cycling accident near Darlington


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