Former helicopter pilot, 39 year old Stuart Rowbottom was medically discharged from the Army in February this year, after he smashed his pelvis and lower spine in the French Alps.
My injury took place 2.5 years ago and I remember being airlifted to Hospital, where I spent two weeks in intensive care in France. I was then moved to a UK spinal unit for 4 months. Following this, I transferred to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court in Surrey. Over the next two years they played a major part in my rehabilitation. Initially, I had no muscle movement in my legs, so they introduced me to using a wheelchair.
I’ve always embraced adventure sports and enjoyed being on the water and skiing. However, I had to face the harsh reality of a life with limited mobility. My routine was travelling back and forth to Headley Court to undergo physical therapy, exercise rehabilitation, Hydro-therapy and adaptive sports training, which incredibly has now enabled me to walk using carbon fibre ankle supports.
Physical fitness has always inspired me and I began to look at ways of re- introducing my broken body back into the sports that I used to enjoy. I’ve used the 5-pylon wakeboard at New Forest Water Park prior to my injury but couldn’t envisage how I would get back on the water. However, A few months ago, I learnt about ‘seated wakeboarding’ through the ‘Battle Back’ Charity. I soon got my own board and have been using it at the park almost every week. The park is brilliant at accommodating me and the feeling of being out on the water, hitting the rails and kickers is fantastic. It’s a wonderful experience and a real adrenaline rush. I would recommend it to anyone with mobility issues.
I now work for a charity called Aerobility, which is based at Blackbushe Airport and offers disabled people the opportunity to fly an aeroplane.
All of this just goes to prove that there are endless opportunities to encompass, without allowing your ability to define who you are.