Aylesbury paralysed cyclist in race to fund spinal cord injury programme
Paralysed from the chest down following a trampolining accident in 2011 aged 16, Johnny powered his legs in the race using Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to fire his muscles.
It was very much a team effort with the Applied Science team at Mercedes F1 among a number of businesses who came forward to help Johnny compete at the highest level.
While Johnny’s aim was to win at Cybathlon 2020, his main motivation was to use the event to shine a light on the sheer potential for electrical stimulation to help others with a spinal cord injury regain movement and independence.
FES allows paralysed muscles to move again as electrodes placed on the skin apply electrical current to make them contract.
The electrical current effectively replaces the nervous system stimulus that is lost in someone who is paralysed.
Now the Cybathlon race is over, another race begins as Johnny turns his attention to fundraising vital research into spinal stimulation which aims to improve the recovery and function of people with paralysis.
The research is being conducted by Neurokinex, a specialist spinal cord injury rehabilitation facility and charity based in Hemel Hempstead which has treated Johnny since his injury. “Neurokinex has become a big part of my life and without their help, I simply wouldn’t be fit enough to race as I do,” says Johnny.
“My trainer there, James Mcleod, has made a significant contribution to my FES cycling career and my on-going rehabilitation for which I’m enormously grateful.
“My dream is to recover from paralysis and I want this to become reality so badly,” continues Johnny.
“As with so much in spinal cord injury rehab, the science is ahead of the money here.
"Lack of funding is holding us back which is why I’m going all out to raise £1 million to make this possibility a reality.”
“Johnny is an incredible individual whose energy, enthusiasm and determination is unmatched,” says Harvey Sihota, founder and CEO of Neurokinex.
“Since the day we met, he has inspired others to share his vision to progress his dream of regaining mobility and independence. At Neurokinex we use electrical stimulation alongside many other ground-breaking therapies.
"Alongside our rehabilitation programmes, we are committed to researching next-generation therapies and solutions to treat spinal cord injury,” continues Harvey.
“People like Johnny are vital to that process and we are hugely grateful to him for giving so much of his time and energy to seek solutions for other people.”
“I cannot thank everyone enough for their support,” says Johnny. “The collaboration and belief among everyone has been incredible and I can only hope that such enthusiasm and foresight will continue after the race to back the Neurokinex Spinal Stimulation Research Programme.
"THAT remains the ultimate goal with my performance at Cybathlon 2020 showing what can be done with electrical stimulation."
To support Johnny’s quest to speed the progress of the Spinal Stimulation Research Programme, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/spinalstimresearch