Playing with Lego will help Richard Hammond to "relearn" vital skills he may have lost in his high-speed crash, a neurosurgeon said yesterday.

Neurosurgeon John Firth, of Nottingham, said repeatedly playing with something "structured" like Lego will help the Top Gear star to relearn vital skills.

"He needs to relearn how to do things he would have done automatically before. Things like writing would come automatically before, because they have been built up since someone was young. A lot of this he may now have to think about."

Mr Firth, who serves on a panel of experts for the brain injury association Headway, said through building with Lego, Hammond's brain is beginning to re-learn structured processes, which he can then transfer to other parts of his life."

Hammond has also told how was addicted to card games, including children's favourite Top Trumps, during his hospital stay, and found remembering facts from these easier than remembering the day or his doctor's name.

Mr Firth said head injury patients can have trouble laying down new memories, and can find they remember more from long ago, than more recently.

"The memory uses patterns and we recognise the pattern and compare it with things we have seen before, for example, so we know what it is that we are looking at.

"When the memory is affected you can lose that ability, so you have to learn the patterns from scratch. That can take time."

Hammond said he regressed to a childlike state during the weeks after his crash, a state which Mr Firth said can be brought on by injuring the frontal lobes of the brain.

"The frontal lobes enable us to make all of our reflexes, things we do without thinking.

"If you disturb the frontal lobes, for example through a head injury, you can lose some of those reflexes and become bloody-minded, or aggressive or childlike."

Mr Firth said the important thing now was for Hammond to get lots of rest and sleep and to take his time as he rebuilds his life.

"At Headway we have put forward a way to help under-stand what's happening, we say it's like being knocked off your perch, now you've got to learn your way back again."