In August 2015, Steve Cook, then aged 52, worked as a maintenance supervisor at an oil refinery in Lincolnshire. Steve was a keen cyclist who competed in the National Cycling Time Trial Best All Rounder Competition, finishing 45th in 2014 and 19th in 2015, winning the over 40s category. He also completed Iron Man UK in 2015.
On Sunday 23 August 2015, Steve went for a swim and a short training session on his bike, before a family holiday. He got to the Lincoln Adventure Centre at about 8:30am when he did a one mile open water swim. He then planned to do a 25-mile bike ride.
Steve had been cycling for around 40 to 50 minutes at an endurance pace of about 22mph and was around three miles from the end of his ride when everything went black. Steve had been hit from behind by a car travelling in the same direction: unfortunately the driver simply hadn’t seen him.
Medical care and rehabilitation
Steve sustained devastating injuries including a fractured sternum, broken ribs, spinal fractures at T6, T7, L1, L4, and S3/4 and a spinal cord injury at L1, resulting in paralysis from the waist down.
Steve was airlifted to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and was then treated at Lincoln County Hospital for around four weeks, before being transferred to a specialist spinal injuries unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Unfortunately Steve developed a pressure sore while in Lincoln, which meant that he had to remain on bed rest for two weeks before he could start his rehabilitation. This was a particularly testing time for Steve, his wife Louise and their two children, then aged 16 and 13; they had no idea what life was going to be like for the family in the future.
Steve was incredibly motivated and pushed himself each day in his rehab. He was eventually discharged on 15 December 2015.
Steve faced a very different life as a wheelchair user after he was discharged. He needed to carry out some adaptations to the family home as it wasn’t wheelchair accessible, and he was unable to return to work. He required equipment, further therapy, and an adapted car.
Steve instructed Stewarts to bring a claim for compensation. The driver’s insurer admitted liability for the accident at an early stage and provided significant interim payments, which enabled Steve and Louise to purchase a new wheelchair-accessible family home and fund state of the art rehabilitation.
Physiotherapy in Australia
Inspired by the Paralympian John Maclean, in August 2016 Steve embarked on a six-week rehabilitation programme with Ken Ware of NeuroPhysics Therapy in Australia. NeuroPhysics Therapy is an exercise-based treatment that engages and triggers the body’s natural healing processes through very light and controlled resistance training. Having been told that he would probably never walk again, Steve took his first unaided steps during that trip to Australia.
Steve’s case was settled in late November 2016, without the need for court proceedings.
Life Beyond Injury
Steve and his family have now moved into their new home and he has reaped the rewards of his dedicated approach to rehabilitation. He is now able to walk with crutches and walking sticks, only using his wheelchair for longer distances.
Having continued his rehab in the UK, Steve went back to Australia in Autumn 2017. Now training most days, he has returned to cycling a two-wheeled bike and his wife Louise is back to being a “sports fanatic’s widow” (Steve’s words).
“Stewarts, from the beginning, was fantastic. I felt at ease straightaway and everything was very clearly explained.
Daniel Herman and Chris Smith were courteous and professional. Straightaway I noticed the difference from other solicitors: there was no pressure, clear guidelines and my options were laid out clearly. This really helped during the stressful time.
My impression of Stewarts is that they are by far the best out there. Everything was covered. It was the worst grade of spinal injury and they knew all about it. They knew about my injury and the specific needs and complex requirements, from what type of accommodation to getting the right specialist treatments.
The settlement has made a big difference. I had to give up work and have been able to afford physio twice a week as well as specialist kit, therapy, sports coaches. We don’t have to worry about finances, and can buy what I need when I need it.
I am back cycling with my cycling and tri clubs and old friends again. I have specialist swimming coaching and use a racing wheelchair for the long distance I would have been running. I am working towards being at competing athlete level again and am nearly there.”
You can read more about Steve’s progress and his pioneering treatment here.
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury pages.
Life beyond injury
We have teamed up with other clients who have suffered catastrophic injuries to tell their stories of Life Beyond Injury. Please visit the Life Beyond Injury webpages here.
We hope that by sharing these stories, newly injured people can see that with the right support they too can overcome adversity to lead full and active lives.
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