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Courage determination key serious injury recovery

Courage and determination key to serious injury recovery

It was a late return home three years ago that got Simon Ingham's partner, Louisa, worrying. The pair had been at Canterbury University together and Simon was due back from a trip to Blenheim in his first job as a sales rep.

Louisa began calling friends to see if they knew of his whereabouts. It was an hour later when the Police called to say he may have been injured in a car crash.

That day in July 2000 was the beginning of a new journey for Simon and Louisa. Driving home from Blenheim that day, Simon had been hit by an oncoming car that had swept around a blind corner on the wrong side of the road.

In a coma with serious head injuries, Simon was airlifted to Wellington Hospital where he went into intensive care. There, he was joined by Louisa who spent lunchtime, afternoons and evenings by his side.

It was thought that Simon would never walk again. Happily, he not only walks, but is learning to run. He can dress himself and look after most of his personal needs. He uses a computer and can make conversation using an electronic communicator. And, at a 20-week milestone in his recovery, Simon popped the question to Louisa, "Will you marry me?" by tapping the message out on a letter board. Louisa accepted and Simon got his father to bring his grandmother's engagement ring to the hospital.

Still speech impaired, he almost managed to say, "I do" at the wedding and flew past his other goal of walking down the isle on his own two feet.

But none of this could be achieved without Simon's determination and intensive rehabilitation. He has a training and independent living coach for 20 hours a week, and spends shorter times with an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, a speech and language therapist, a psychologist and a personal trainer at the gym.

"Simon treats his rehabilitation as a job. Between nine and three he's at work," says Louisa.

Getting to this stage has not always been a foregone conclusion. According to the medical advisors, Simon would show the greatest recovery in the first two years. But Louisa says that after three years, he is showing no sign of slowing down.

"Even though the accident looks awful when it first happens, it will get better," Louisa says. "If I had known back then that Simon would be as good today as he is, I would have been a lot happier."

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