A Huddersfield man left paralysed following an accident at work is inspiring other spinal injury sufferers by encouraging them to participate in a specialist Paralympic sport.
Former landscape gardener Tim Henson suffered a crush injury in 2008 that left him with spinal injuries. It was a life-changing incident but Tim, now 56, has found participating in Boccia, which involves players rolling, throwing or kicking a ball towards a jack from a sitting position, has helped him both physically and socially.
Boccia can play a key role in rehabilitation and recovery for those who have suffered such injuries. If players are unable to throw or kick they can use an assistant and a ramp together with various aids for support.
Tim was invited to take part in one of the monthly sessions at Pinderfields Hospital’s spinal injuries unit by lawyers from Irwin Mitchell, whose Leeds-based medical negligence team acted for him following his accident.
“It was really good fun,” he said, “and the social benefits of Boccia are fantastic. It’s a great way to meet different people at the unit. There were others at the session who has suffered spinal injuries, so it was good to share each other’s experiences.”
Tim chose to speak out in support of Spinal Cord Injuries Awareness Day to help raise understanding of spinal cord injuries and what can be achieved after sustaining one.
After his accident Tim was taken to the A&E department at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, but unfortunately the hospital initially failed to diagnose the extent of his injuries. He was later referred for surgery after further investigations had diagnosed a fracture in his thoracic spine. However the operation he was referred for was inappropriate and following surgery he suffered complications. He returned to hospital but staff failed to diagnose him.
Earlier intervention would have prevented the ongoing complications, which resulted in paralysis. As a result Tim pursued legal action against Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, the Trust responsible for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
The Trust admitted a breach of duty, and that if Tim had been treated correctly then he would have avoided a post-operative infection and would not now be a paraplegic. The case was settled in 2014.
Said Tim: “My accident changed my life. Even ten years on from it, I still find myself having to adjust to new things and adapt my life to my injuries.
“When the hospital made the admissions to my legal team at Irwin Mitchell I was angry and upset, knowing that if they had handled my care differently, I would have recovered and not be paralysed.”
Rachelle Mahapatra, who acted for Tim after his accident and heads up the Irwin Mitchell medical negligence team in Leeds, said his story was “an inspirational one” for anyone who has suffered a similar injury.
“He continues to be active, going to the gym. He still supports his sports teams, plays snooker and goes out. His garden was adapted so he can do most of the garden, which he enjoys. He still has a work bench and he makes beautiful garden furniture and a playhouse for his grandson. He also travels extensively with his wife, Jackie.
“At Irwin Mitchell we see the effects that spinal injuries have on people, not just the physical effects but the emotional and mental effects too. We have been campaigning about the benefit of sport through our ‘Don’t Quit, Do It’ campaign, which aims to raise awareness and participation of disability sports across the country.”
For more information about the benefits of Boccia email firstname.lastname@example.org