Coma Survivor Near Death Just Five Months From Walking After Our Gym's Vital Rehab

A man who was near death and left in a coma for two weeks says he is just ‘five months’ away from feeling he can walk again after receiving extensive exercise and physiotherapy rehabilitation from our inclusive exercise service.  

Bow-based Karl Jarvis, 48, says he’s confident he can walk the near-six mile trip to visit his beloved Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from his east London home within the year, after being left within intensive care for three months and wheelchair-bound following a horrific motorbike accident in April 2009 when living in Thailand.

‘A Really Dark Place’

The former Mellow Restaurant and Bar owner - who trained to be a scuba diver when he lived in Phuket - was riding his bike one morning in Thailand and fell, leaving him with life-changing injuries and unable to ‘do anything physical’ for five years after the accident and in a ‘really dark place’.

“I couldn’t remember a thing after the accident and all I know is the Thailand main hospital saved my life then and I felt I couldn’t get out of my wheelchair and was really down - asking ‘why me’?,” says Karl, “and my Mum since told me she couldn’t believe what happened as it was on April Fool’s Day.”

‘Destroyed Me’

Remaining in intensive care initially in Thailand - where due to the care system, Karl and his family relied on savings to pay £13,000 for hospital costs - the former Apple retailer and computer fanatic (who also cracked his collar bone and scarred his hip during the crash), then moved to Whitechapel’s Royal London Hospital after returning to the UK for further specialist treatment.

Also left with limited speech after the accident - which damaged his brain tissue and left him unable to complete everyday tasks such as holding a pen - Karl says: “My disability has destroyed me a bit and particularly immediately in the years after the crash, as I wasn’t sure what to do and where to go.”

‘Love Ability Bow’

But Karl - who was once Ealing-based estate agent - says thanks to his sister and daughter, he was referred to our service which features inner London’s only remaining inclusive disabilities and long-term health conditions gym, three years ago, which has helped him rebuild his life both physically and emotionally.

“I’m really grateful for being at Ability Bow,” says Karl, “as if I hadn’t have joined the gym, my rehabilitation would’ve taken so much longer and I wouldn’t even thinking of going to watch Tottenham or walk from my home to the stadium.

“But by being here and working with great personal trainers such as Patrick (Trotman), Drew (Nicholls) and Si Mohamed (Dahiri), I’ve been able to develop my stamina so much I’m able to exercise almost entirely on my own and strengthen my legs and glutes.

“Trainers like Pat are always working me harder and when I’m here, I can be part of a social gym tailoring to my needs, increases independence and motivates me; so much I can now even visit the shops or places on Roman Road.

“I love Ability Bow and really would recommend anyone needing specialist exercise support to attend as it’s friendly and accommodating to everyone with a disability and I’d love to see more gyms like this in London; as I’m so glad it was here for me locally and it helps match my inner positive mental attitude.”

Supporting One-To-One Exercise For All

Based adjacent to Roman Road Market, Ability Bow - which was formed in 2006 by Victoria Kent and has since helped more than 4,000 disabled people into exercise - provides one-to-one exercise support for people with a range of health conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, those recovering from strokes, to people with mental health challenges including depression or anxiety.

Ability Bow Director and Founder, Victoria Kent, says: “We’re thrilled people like Karl can recover so impressively following a traumatic and life-changing experience and we want to continue to help Karl and other gym members to take such inspiring paths with their own wellbeing.

“We’re driven to supporting everyone in east London to become fitter and stronger for longer, so we’re really keen for people who believe in our unique work to support people like Karl by donating to us on our Virgin Money Giving page; so we can build a new long-term one-to-one exercise rehabilitation support programme.

“Providing a dedicated and closely monitored trainer and gym member exercise structure for 12 weeks and beyond, we believe with your help we can support people like Karl to make extraordinary changes through a new long-term one-to-one service, so if you’d like to fund us, please visit our donations page; thank you so much.”

Find Out More

You can find out more about our exercise programmes and activities at Ability Bow - which is based on the top floor of St Paul’s Church, St Stephen’s Road, Bow: