An Ability Bow gym member recovering from a Hypoxic brain injury following a life-threatening avalanche accident in December 2012 - which left him with no oxygen or heartbeat for 30 minutes - is looking to make a sensational return to snowboarding again thanks to incredible innovations as seen within the BBC's terrific Big Life Fix series.
Graham Naylor, who uses our Bow-based gym - which is based in St Paul's Church on St Stephen's Road near Roman Road Market - as well as Bikeworks and Headway East London service to progress his neurological rehabilitation, featured as part of the inspirational TV series on Thursday 26 July, where Graham is supported by the inventive Big Life Fix team.
Snowboarding off-piste in the French Alps, Graham was caught in an overwhelming avalanche which left him in a coma and on life support in Grenoble Hospital, France, for a month.
The Big Life Fix
First visiting Ability Bow - which provides a series of specialist support services for those with disabilities and long-term health conditions - and chatting to Graham and his support worker Roy Caward (pictured left at the top of the page), the television production team were gripped by Graham’s story and asked if he would like to join the show.
Once agreed, inventor, engineer and industrial designer, Yusuf Muhammad (pictured right at the top of the page) was able to gauge Graham’s prototype snowboard design requirements after he visited Guy’s Hospital’s neurology department with Graham and Roy to better understand Graham’s very rare condition, Action Myoclonus.
Working in secret on the new designs at Machines Room, east London, the initial creation enabled Graham to stand upright on the board within the workshop.
This breakthrough enabled Graham to then test these initial prototypes with assistance from Roy and the Disability Snowsport UK team at the Hemel Hempstead Snowdome; all alongside some intense sessions with Chel-Ski instructors.
Deciding on a final snowboard design from Yusuf - the board was then formally manufactured at snowboard brand Burton’s USA facility, Craig’s in Vermont.
The completed board was then tested out for real in genuine snow on a real mountain slope, in Itschgl, Austria, with some brilliant results; as seen within the first episode - Inventing The Impossible - of the BBC’s Big Life Fix series (which is voiced by Simon Reeve and is a celebration of British ingenuity, design and skill and its power to affect huge change on the lives of people in need).
Graham At Our Gym
Based in Brick Lane, 46-year-old Burnley born and Burnley Football Club fan Graham - who now has severely limited speech and mobility following his accident - was first referred to Ability Bow in 2014. He has since been gaining strength, learning to walk again and showing great determination to combat his Action Myoclonus diagnosis.
Graham, who regularly uses our gym which provides specialist instructor support for people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, says: "I'm absolutely amazed at the support I've had since being involved in the fantastic Big Life Fix and staggered that I'm able to get the chance to return to the mountains and snow again, which is something I thought may never happen.
"Those on the programme have really been able to support my ambitions and it’s been a great change to do something as genuinely exciting as this, while I’ve also ended up using different muscle groups I haven’t used since the avalanche - which has also been an interesting experience.
“Finally, I just want to add a huge thank you to all those at Ability Bow, Bikeworks and Headway East London and all my friends and family in getting me to this point; the support is immense.”
How You Can Help People Like Graham
Amazed by Graham's story?
You can help us to keep people like Graham living their dream - and be part of our aim to keep people feeling emotionally and physically stronger for longer - by: