PARALYSED from the chest downwards, Hayden Marshall, 17, is determined to walk again more than 12 months after a trampoline accident which left him a quadriplegic.
He was practising a double front flip on his trampoline on Saturday, September 10, 2016, when he fell on his stomach, breaking his neck in four places and injuring his spinal cord.
“I just knew something was wrong,” he said.
He yelled out to his brother and the Air Ambulance was soon on its way to their home in Rhyll, where it took four paramedics to each balance a spot on the trampoline to safely get Hayden onto a stretcher.
Unfortunately, Hayden missed out on the views on the 20 minute helicopter ride to the Alfred Hospital.
He was told he had about a three per cent chance of walking again.
The statistics didn’t seem to bother the 17-year-old quadriplegic, pushing on and undergoing dozens of therapies to regain movement in his arms and legs.
Before the accident, he would spend hours every day practising his gymnastics.
For the past 12 months, he’s still been spending hours each day, re-training his brain through ‘neurophysics’ on how to move his arms, breathe and stretch.
He sees it as a different form of training.
“It’s where my brain finds different ways to do stuff,” Hayden said.
“It’s reminding your body what it used to do,” he said, recalling pretending to swim on the floor a few months ago.
It took Hayden a couple of weeks to get his head around the neurophysics, but he’s seeing improvement.
In the weeks following his accident, he would have to use one arm to lift the other, but 12 months on and he is swinging his arms around, able to coach other aspiring gymnasts at the Phillip Island YMCA on Thursday and Friday nights.
“It is different, but you adapt and learn,” he says.
“It feels like it was a century ago when it happened. I can now eat and move my arms.”
He’s a typical Phillip Island teenager, studying at Newhaven College with braces and a positive attitude.
He could be an inventor, often coming up with new ideas to regain movement with plenty of testing, modifying with his dad Ian and re-testing. But he’s not bothered.
“Well it can’t hurt, so I just think why not?”
As with gymnastics, it’s practice, practice, practice.
Upstairs in their Rhyll home, he has a standing frame he practises on while watching TV.
He went from holding himself for about 10 seconds a year ago to holding for 45 minutes just a few days ago.
“You never know what can happen,” he says, adding that he hopes he’ll be able to stand and try to walk in six months.
“If you sit around and do nothing, nothing will happen.”
While the therapies are working, they don’t come cheap.
Because Hayden is still a teenager, the more rehabilitation work he undergoes now, the more improvement he will see.
“Then when it’s done, I can just keep working on moving and walking,” he said.
Hayden is acting as an inspiration to many others with spinal cord injuries and other health problems.
Recently, a woman with stage four cancer messaged Hayden on his Facebook page ‘Hayden’s Road to Recovery’.
Hayden’s mum Sharron says it shows the enormous impact he’s having on others.
“She said she struggles to get out of bed every morning, but she sees the videos we put up and she says they help a lot,” says Sharron.
“The page started out with just Hayden’s journey, but now it’s more than that, we’re meeting and helping other people who are recovering.”
When Hayden was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), his mum brought in a radio so he could listen to his favourite radio hosts – Hamish and Andy.
Then a few weeks later, the duo were filming ‘True Story’ in the same building and decided to surprise Hayden.
But he wasn’t there. He was at the gymnastics World Cup and instead got a message with a picture of Andy lying on his bed.
“I turned to Mum and I said, ‘What’s Hamish and Andy doing in my hospital room?’” He laughed it off.
He’ll be visiting Hamish and Andy this Thursday at the Fox FM studios to catch up with the radio hosts.
Following the accident, local volunteer groups and businesses came together to ensure his home was ready when he returned.
“They re-did the bathroom, put in ramps, it’s been incredible.
“If the community didn’t help, I’d still be in hospital and not able to come home,” he said.
As for that notorious trampoline, Sharron’s keen to get rid of it, but Hayden has other plans.
“I love that trampoline. I reckon I’ll be bouncing on it this summer.”
To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/2qtms3ka
Hayden’s mission to walk