Spinal Injuries Association, the leading voice of the spinal cord injured community, today signed up its 10000 member. Chris Toon was injured in June this year and paralysed from the chest down following a motorcycle crash in Derbyshire. The charity’s Peer Support Officers have been on hand throughout his rehabilitation and he is now encouraging other spinal cord injured people and their friends and families to also join the Association.

The 32 year old, a music teacher at Nottingham High School made a split second decision to steer his motorcycle into a ditch to avoid hitting a group of cyclists in the road after he came round a blind bend and started to skid. His selfless actions left him paralysed.

He was airlifted to Coventry Hospital where he was stabilized. A week later he was transferred to Queens Medical Centre Nottingham and underwent major spinal surgery before starting his rehabilitation in Sheffield Princess Royal Spinal Unit.

Chris is being supported in his rehabilitation journey by SIA Peer Support Officers, Andy Wharton and Chris Fitzjohn.

He said: “Andy and Chris have been really helpful. They have an “ask me anything” attitude and whether it’s about intimate matters or getting daily task done, their wealth of experience as people who have been through similar circumstances is invaluable. It’s great to see that another person in a wheelchair can do these tasks, move on with life and look forward to the future. They helped me realise that this – my rehabilitation – was doable and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“The staff at my Sheffield Spinal Cord Injury Centre were fantastic. They stabilised me further gave me the tools and techniques to get on with my rehabilitation. Training and learning is one thing, but once you’re “on the job” as it were, it’s a different story. I found some things really hard such as learning to transfer between my wheelchair and my bed. It didn’t take me long to find my own technique”

Andy Wharton, one of the Peer Support Officers who have been supporting Chris said:

“It can be very hard coming to terms with the devastating effects of a spinal cord injury. Yet a fulfilled life after injury is possible and through his determination and hard work, Chris is rapidly becoming a great example of that.”

Chris was discharged from hospital in October and is now living independently at home near Nottingham which has been recently modified to meet his needs. He is hoping to start back at work in January as a music teacher and his school has already been in touch regarding the adaptations they need to make to his workplace, such as accessible ramps and automatic doors.

Sue Browning, Chief Executive of Spinal Injuries Association said:

“We welcome Chris as our 10,000th member. His experience is a great example of how life doesn’t have to end after a spinal cord injury. With the knowledge and support that our Peer Support Officers provide, together with expert healthcare, a fulfilled life is possible. We want that for everyone living with a spinal cord injury and that’s why it is so important for anyone with a spinal cord injury, their friends and family or health professionals to become a member. Together we can get spinal cord injured people the help and support they need and deserve.”

Membership of Spinal Injuries Association is free and member benefits include access to a range of services to support spinal cord injured people, their families and friends and healthcare professionals such as access to the Peer Support, Nurse Specialist, and Advice and Casework Service as well as an extensive range of online resources. For further information, please go to www.spinal.co.uk