Coping beyond adversity: living with a spinal cord injury

Published on October 27, 2011 Updated on February 29, 2016   25 min

Other Talks in the Series: Neurotrauma

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Everybody living with a spinal cord injury has a story to tell about how their life has been turned upside down in an instant with significant changes and adjustments far beyond what most able-bodied people could ever care to imagine. This presentation, Coping Beyond Adversity, Living with a Spinal Cord Injury, will hopefully enlighten you into that existence. Hi, my name is Gary Allsopp and I'm a quadriplegic due to an accident playing Australian Rules Football in 1989. This is my story.
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I was born on the 20th of October 1960 and I grew up in the suburb of North Blackburn in the east of Melbourne in Australia. As long as I can remember, I had a passion for sport, any sport. Tennis, golf, basketball, it didn't really matter. But particularly, cricket and Australian Rules Football. Another great love of mine growing up was music. I always knew the latest songs in the charts and on the radio as well as having a fairly extensive record collection. In the early 1980s, somehow both of these passions came together when I decided to start DJ-ing at several functions at my football club, which led to a professional and lucrative DJ and singing career that lasted up until my accident. It was in this industry that I met my wife who was a dancer. And we married in 1987, bought a new house, our life could not have been better until one day, fate stepped in.
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It was April 29, 1989 playing for my local football club, Warrandyte when I ran onto the field, full of confidence not knowing what lay ahead in my future. It was in the first quarter of the game when I ran in with my head down to pick up the ball with someone directly chasing me behind. As I bent down, another player came in from the front and bumped me directly on my head, forcing my neck downwards and immediately I collapsed unconscious. I was stretchered off the ground and I came to in the dressing rooms, not knowing exactly what had happened to myself. All I knew was that I could not feel my arms and legs and I was screaming in pain like I had never experienced before. Even then I was not aware of what was going on and how my future would turn out. I was transported to the Spinal Unit at the Austin Hospital via helicopter. My life had significantly changed right there and now in one second with one bump playing the sport that I had grown up loving. The irony of the situation was that I could have been at a friend of my wife's wedding but I chose not to let the team down and play football instead. They say life is a series of choices that we make. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong option that day, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
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Coping beyond adversity: living with a spinal cord injury

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