In Oct 2011 I had a trampoline accident and broke my neck after attempting a backwards somersault. I became paralysed, lost the use of my hands and partially my arms too. I had to rethink my life and have a carer with me all day everyday.
8 years later, I am still in a similar situation. From the very beginning, my goal has been to recover from Spinal Cord Injury.
I became fascinated with FES (functional electrical stimulation). Sticking electrodes all over my body became part of my daily routine; the closest I could get to preventing muscle atrophy. The Berkelbike, which incorporated not only arm cycling, but FES cycling for the legs became the most efficient tool for building muscle in paralysed legs.
Cybathlon 2016 History
In 2016 I competed in the World's First Bionic Games called the Cybathlon. Using just my legs, I pedalled in the event with little idea of who I was up against. That day I became the fastest surface electrode rider over 750m and gained a Silver medal, racing for the Berkelbike UK Team. I was beaten by a man with implanted electrodes who had a very lightweight sports recumbent bike and several unfair advantages.
2 Years Before Cybathlon 2020
I applied for Cybathlon 2020 over 2 years ago, but became worried that there were not enough improvements to the Berkelbike to win. The combined team, ImperialBerkel didn't have enough resources for custom complex development on top of event expenses. Berkelbike was, and still is, a relatively small company and was not in the position to fund high development costs.
Building the Race Bike
I was determined to make my own modifications and managed to complete Phase I of the development. Some money was generously contributed towards development and training costs by Charlie’s Charity and the Bucks Talented Athlete Award. Otherwise it wasn't looking great and development progress halted as funds dwindled.
The seat was the main issue and we got it to a stage of functioning reasonably well, but it made the bike too heavy and dangerous to ride.
To my delight, Prodrive Composites in Milton Keynes have come to the rescue by scanning the current race seat design, refining it and have started work on building a bespoke lightweight carbon seat.
However, there are many more adaptations to make in Phase II, the second part of development. A lead time of only 4 months to get custom electronics, 3D printing, engineering and cycling related development done, most of which will remain confidential until after the Cybathlon 2020.
That's where I need your help to finish a racing version of the Berkelbike!
Making FES Cycling more efficient will be positively life changing for those suffering from paralysis. Your support will accelerate solutions for recovery from Spinal Cord Injury. That's where my career path is headed, I want to be able-bodied again and in so doing, help others in a similar position to me.
Gold at Cybathlon 2020 only helps speed up the process so hit that button, let’s go!