The story of Steven Dowd and his inspiring achievement of riding a 100 miles in 6 hours, 200 days after sustaining a spinal cord injury

Following my injury (tetraplegia, C3/4 incomplete) I spent four months between two hospitals before coming home. From a zero base, through a million tiny wins, I improved greatly in that time and was able to stand and walk but was a little jerky, unbalanced, unconfident and not strong. I could use my left hand to a degree but my usually dominant right hand continued to be a significant challenge. I could not raise my outstretched arms above my shoulders and had limited control of those which gave me severe limitations for moving around and completing daily living tasks. I was independent in some things but needed to rely on others to help with most tasks.

Having just enough mobility to get through the day is a compromise I consider not good enough for me yet! Working with Neurolink has given me a solid foundation to get back the mobility I need to live well. Recovery is not just about walking! I’ve seen many other factors improved by working with Neurolink from internal body processes, sensory issues and spasms to mental state. With a lot of hard work from everyone we are building on this foundation and in a short space of time I have found my daily living is completed far more independently, with confidence and speed. I feel much better about myself, my injury and my future prospects.

Working with the Neurolink team is simply fun! It’s dam hard work, as you would expect, but the energy and enthusiasm exuded from the second you walked in the door is palpable. A cleverly designed open plan environment engages all clients (and their supporters) in each other’s recovery and progress. This allows a collegiate feel, the opportunity to reinforce positive messages for injured clients and bond with others going through something similar to you. For a small practice it is surprisingly well-equipped. From state-of-the-art Pilates Reformers and a Cadillac frame to a multifunctional gym including FES bikes for those who need them and enough space for several clients to work alongside one another simultaneously. Of course, there is also the wall full of little physio gadgets and gizmos to frustrate but improve you!

Steven Dowd doing FES therapyThe PT sessions are creatively designed around really testing my abilities, strengthening my muscular and cardiovascular systems.

Deep tissue massage is used to strip out tension from muscles so they can move in an optimal way whilst stimulating sensory pathways and drainage. Yes, it is deep but done with empathy and tailored to you. Neurophysio uses techniques to strengthen and lengthen muscles through Pilates-inspired stretching, realign my posture and improve mobility in my arms, legs and trunk. Physio-controlled FES Bioness facilitates muscular contraction in areas I cannot quite actively move which strengthens my limbs for walking and reaching/grasping movements.

The benefits of each treatment are great individually but all three work best in concert. Each therapist works as part of your team jointly responsible for your care and regularly communicate about what needs doing to make the most progress.

The healing environment coupled with expert skills and knowledge stands out for me as Neurolink Physiotherapy’s greatest assets. Never a treatment goes by that is not full of positivity, smiles and laughter. These are the intangibles of a recovery process that are equally important to the hands-on therapy.

Steven Dowd doing personal training for disability

I have recently completed an immense goal of riding 100 miles in 6 hours and raised £30,000 for spinal injury research. I couldn’t have achieved this without the help and support of Neurolink Team over the past year. 

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