A MAN left paralysed from the chest down after an accident says playing the guitar helped him regain the movement in his hands.
Hugh Gange-Harris, 43, damaged his spinal cord when he hit the back of a truck at 10mph on his bike in Bristol Road, Bridgwater, two years ago.
Initially he could not feed himself, but then he took up his old hobby, and steadily improved the strength and mobility in his hands.
He has since played at gigs in Stawell village hall and jokes that he will soon go on tour.
He said: “I was technically a tetraplegic, and had lost control in my arms and legs.
“The doctors didn’t know if I’d walk again. I’d lost the feeling in my hands and had limited movement – at first I couldn’t open my hands apart and had to be fed.
“The guitar has improved my dexterity, and I’ve got feeling and control back in my hands.
“It’s not 100%, but it’s a lot better than it was. I can eat by myself and use my computer keyboard better.
“I’ve performed at the village hall about six times and they seemed to enjoy it – I’m thinking about a European Tour!
“I don’t have anything planned – it’s just a case of keeping going.
“I’d recommend the guitar to anybody. It forces you to focus on something else and keeps the mind active.”
The former primary school teacher and married father-of-two had played the guitar for six months before his accident and decided to take it up again a few months later.
Thanks to the regained movement he can now work on his children’s books and a novel.
Hugh, who was involved in a variety of extreme sports and was a Hapkido martial arts instructor, can now walk short distances with knee and ankle braces, and sticks, and sticks to his physiotherapy rehabilitation programme.
He said: “The key isn’t to look too far ahead. The biggest problem people have is to have goals and expectations, and they’re disheartened if they don’t make them.
“I do as the physiotherapists tell me to, but sometimes there are days when I can’t exercise.”
Stawell residents rallied round last September to buy Hugh a state-of-the-art £5,000 wheelchair with a motorised hub.