Stratford upon Avon RUFC player regains confidence and lifestyle thanks to chin controlled power chair after sustaining a serious spinal cord injury on the field.
A young and active Gareth Rees sustained serious damage to his spinal cord after a fearless ruck on the rugby field in 2011, an injury that would change his life forever. 28 year old Gareth, from Warwickshire has been able to continue with his favourite hobbies and interests following the NHS providing him with a B400 wheelchair by mobility experts Ottobock.
The chair is operated by a bluetooth chin control that allows Gareth to control the direction and speed of the chair, along with moving his mouse at work and controlling his TV, Sky and iPod dock at home. Gareth has since been regaining some independence and enjoying watching rugby and other sports along with going for countryside walks.
Gareth explains: “I have always been a very active person and have a passion for rugby and lots of other sports. Following my injury on the rugby pitch I spent months in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham before moving to the Stoke Mandeville National Spinal Injury Clinic where I started a long process of rehabilitation. It was explained to me that I had injured my high-cervical nerves resulting in no movement or sensation below my upper arms which was tough news to take in and I knew it meant my life would change forever.”
Despite the news, Gareth continued to push himself everyday through physiotherapy to complete simple tasks most people take for granted and regain as much movement as his injury would allow. He was then given the opportunity to choose his new wheelchair that would help him complete some tasks independently at work and at home.
“The local wheelchair services showed me lots of chair options and I opted for the Ottobock B400 after being impressed with the lightweight design, small turning circle and its ability to tilt 45 degrees. It is easy to use in my house which has now had a lift installed thanks to the Matt Hampson Foundation that has supported me greatly during my rehabilitation.”
“Following my accident I was keen to resume as many normal activities as best I could; I have now been able to go back to my job in IT support where I use my chin control as a mouse and regularly go to watch my old team Stratford upon Avon RUFC.”
Along with the B400, Gareth has started using an Ottobock C2000 wheelchair, provided by Ottobock dealer partner Recare. With full suspension, this can be used on a variety of terrains and can build up higher speeds. It is power driven and can go on tough ground, meaning he can go for walks in the countryside.
“So far I have used my chair to go to Sweden and I am going to Portugal later this year. I am also looking to build up to more work and have enjoyed spending some time in the countryside. I’m looking forward to what the future holds and will continue to keep as active as possible, thanks to my power chairs.”