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"If I rest, I rust" - Jonjo Bright on carrying on through adversity

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

03:03 21 Jun 2019

In 2013 Jonjo Bright suffered a severe spinal injury which left him paralysed from the waist down. The jockey fell during a race, which changed his life forever from the age of 19.

Jonjo joined us on Friday Night Racing to tell his story and explain how he dealt with the situation.

"I remember the whole thing. I wasn't knocked out or anything like that. You hear people saying they have nightmares - it wasn't traumatic. It was a simple enough fall. The main thing would've been the ground... it was firm ground and I just got a bad fall," he said.

In the face of adversity, the 25-year-old has shown incredible tenacity in recovery.

"You might be down about it for the meantime, but you begin to think then what is the best way around this, what is the best way to structure things to move forward."

"I watch things about other people who have had unfortunate circumstances and I think, 'How do they deal with that?' But it is funny when you're in a situation like that, what is your other option?"

Mindset

Bright was initially told he would not have feeling below his neck again, and also spent some time in hospital recovering. He has been determined to fight against that prognosis from day one, and has managed to recover movement as far as his toes.

"It did yeah [improve]. For example I can wiggle all of my toes, and as far as signals go, that’s the furthest away, and that just doesn’t make sense," he said.

"We’re slowly making small gains even now that we’re well past the time where you’re not supposed to see any gains."

His mindset has also been pivotal in this extraordinary recovery. He felt the need to change his mindset as soon as he left hospital: "When I was in hospital the nurses and the staff were absolutely phenomenal. Sometimes I think they can try to mould you into thinking that you're made of glass.

"As soon as I got out of hospital that was one thing that I wanted to change. I got back to doing as many of the things that I used to do as possible.

"A big thing that I have done and everybody around me too, is we try to keep things as normal as possible.

"There’s things that you have to get on with. You have to live your life and try to fit all of these other things around that. I think at the minute I have a nice balance that way."

Exoskeleton

Bright can now walk with the help of an exoskeleton, which has transformed his life. He now regularly counts over 2,000 steps some weeks, and is continuing to attempt to improve that further.

"It's basically like a wearable robot, which allows me to stand and walk. It does the work of probably five or six physiotherapists," he explained.

"The exo and the physio that I do is all based around the idea that your body is not designed to sit down all day long. I heard a good saying, 'If I rest I rust.'"

He did not let his injury stop him from being involved in horse racing and he now works in the buying and selling of horses.

"Early on I saw this as a way to still be involved with racing, with minimal physical input. Obviously I get a hand in terms of any looking after. I do enjoy it and I do see a future in it. That could be beginners luck... hopefully it's something that I can keep at."

 

Our racing coverage is brought to you in association with GoRacing.ie.

Words by Alex McCarthy

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