Paralysed man learns to walk again and becomes personal trainer

When Mike Newman was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him paralysed from the waist down, he was told he may never walk again.

However, the 30-year-old has defied the odds to not only fully recover, but become a licensed personal trainer too.

Mike, from Hayling Island, Hampshire, was thrown from his bike during a motocross practice in June 2019, leaving him with his L3 vertebrae shattered, a punctured lung and a fractured tailbone and pelvis.

‘I landed on my back when I just felt it explode beneath me,’ he explained. ‘I tried to get up, but I couldn’t move.’

After being airlifted to hospital, Mike had metal rods inserted into his back and had to use a catheter due to bowel issues caused by nerve damage.

He was still unable to feel his legs for some time, though, and said they ‘ended up just withering away to skin and bone.’

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Mike spent the next six months in hospital while waiting to go to a spinal rehab centre, facing a number of issues during his stay. His wounds were infected and the rods in his back snapped, meaning more gruelling treatment and a longer wait to be discharged.

When he was back in the world, Mike made it his mission to prove doctors – who said he may not have been able to walk again – wrong.

Thanks to assistive equipment and physiotherapy, he managed to take his first steps since the crash.

‘I spent the lockdown walking around my house with a Zimmer frame, standing frame, crutches and a wheelchair,’ he said.

‘Using the frames was a really odd experience as there was no feeling in my legs for quite some time, so I kind of had to just drag my feet and legs along and rely on my upper body strength.

‘One of my biggest goals was to be able to use the bathroom myself again, and it felt like such an achievement to independently use the toilet rather than having to use a catheter.’

His physiotherapy sessions were cut short by Covid restrictions, but he began going to the gym when things began to open up.

Mike said: ‘Through the training and pushing myself to walk, the feeling started to come back to my legs which was crazy, and I found I was able to stand and walk for short periods of time.’

These achievements sparked him to reapply for his personal training license, and he became the first to complete the course in a wheelchair.

He’s now hoping to use his experience of paralysis to help train other people in a similar situation and give them the new hope they need to get back on their feet.

‘When I was in spinal rehab, everyone in the ward was having an extremely difficult time as each one was affected by some sort of paralysis,’ Mike recalled.

‘There was a lad I got chatting with on the ward, who was just at a point of giving up, he never thought he’d walk again.

‘I decided to just befriend him and drag him along with me to the gym every time I went and told him that he would get there.

‘He recently sent me a video of himself walking up and down the stairs for the first time in years, and it gave me that inspiration I needed to try and help others.’

Mike credits his friends and family for helping him through his rehabilitation after his accident, and love how much they have inspired him to keep going.

He said: ‘My partner, Emma-Jane, 29, has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and always challenged me to push past what I thought my limits were.

‘I recently danced with her for the first time which felt amazing, and as she’s a pole dance instructor, she’s even had me give the pole a go!’

He says his loved ones turned ‘what would have been a very isolated period’ into ‘one of my most progressive and challenging times where [he’s] come out ten times better on the other side.’

‘I may never be back to 100%, and still need my wheelchair when I over-exert myself,’ added Mike. ‘But I’ve come so far and I’m so proud.’

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