Gareth’s life changed in July 2014 when he fell from his apartment building and sustained a traumatic brain injury. The fall also shattered his wrist and fractured his rib, face, and everything from his waist down, including his feet, ankles, knees and pelvis. Gareth was lucky to survive.
After seven weeks in hospital Gareth started his long road to recovery at Royal Rehab. Two months into his rehabilitation Gareth celebrated the major milestone of standing without assistance for the first time since his accident. Gradually he developed enough strength and coordination that would enable him to progress from using a forearm support frame to a 4-wheel walker and crutches, increasing his capacity for movement.
Before his accident Gareth was an avid skier, but with his injury posing new challenges and limitations, the chances of him being able to return to an activity he once enjoyed seemed unlikely, until he heard about the Wintersports Camp. Offered through Royal Rehab’s Return2Sport program, the Wintersports Camp provides a chance for people living with a disability to experience the thrill of the snow again in adapted activities.
Gareth attended his first Return2Sport Wintersports Camp at Thredbo in September 2016 and was reinvigorated by the experience and the unique opportunity to participate in an active sport, in spite of his disability.
“Recovery has been slow and I am restricted from doing quite a lot, so it was great to find something that I am able to do in sit-skiing, and to find that ultimately you can ski as well as anyone skiing normally,” says Gareth.
“It’s pretty challenging. I feel like I have to concentrate the whole time but it feels great you can hold all this speed under your own esteem. I think I progressed more than I expected to.”
The Camp also equipped Gareth with key techniques and strategies that would allow him to enjoy skiing as independently as possible again. In December 2016, just three months after his first Return2Sport Wintersports Camp, Gareth was able to use his new skills on a skiing holiday in France with his family!
Return2Sport has opened up a world of opportunities for Gareth and others like him so that they, like us, can continue to enjoy independent, meaningful and enriching life experiences.
“They [Return2Sport] show you that you can do virtually any activity you want if you’re disabled,” says Gareth. “There’s more sports than I have time to do – there’s so much going on, it’s great!