I was completely conscious and there was no pain. For the past ten days, the Paralympic Games has played host to disabled athletes who, like Steve, have showcased remarkable physical abilities against seemingly insurmountable odds. Today, the wheelchair rugby final will be played in front of thousands of fans. There is no doubt that Paralympic athletes are elite sportsmen, but for the majority of those with disabilities the biggest hurdles are mundane, everyday tasks — preparing food, going to the shops, going to the bathroom — which they may have once taken for granted.
So it comes as little surprise that an estimated quarter of those with an acquired disability are diagnosed with depression or another mental illness as a result of their new situation. After his accident, Steve says he was at first optimistic but as it became apparent he would never walk again, those feelings turned to despair. This was going to be it for the rest of my life, as good as it would get.
From his breastbone upwards, he has complete, normal sensation, including full use of his hands and arms. Below it, he has little or no level of movement. I have never felt so helpless. I felt nothing but resentment. How could she be so positive when I felt desolate? They were driving mile round trips from Kent to see me. My mum and dad and my three younger brothers were scared so I wanted to be strong for them. One day I asked him what was going to happen to me.
He made me see that every cloud has a silver lining. He first watched a game of wheelchair rugby — dubbed murderball because of its combative playing style — while still at the site. That sparked something in me. They reminded me of what I used to be like. That was a turning point.
The more I played, the better I got and the stronger I became. So it was not only helping me with my physical recovery but with my confidence, too. Peer support is of great benefit, which is where things like team sport comes in. Psychological support depends on individual needs. We meet with the patient and family on admission and work out their clinical needs.
Many will rely on social services, which can vary from county to county. But he was made captain of the GB team at the European Championships last year, a role he has repeated at London And beyond the Paralympics?
He comes over uncharacteristically coy. It just changed direction. Steve Brown reveals how he overcame a broken back to become GB wheelchair rugby captain.