Monday 26 September 2016

Tetraplegic man taking on Tough Mudder course in wheelchair controlled with chin

Published 19/08/2015 | 13:08

Rob Camm will become the first tetraplegic in the world to take part in a Tough Mudder challenge - navigating the 12-mile course on a wheelchair he controls with his chin (University of Bristol/PA)
Rob Camm will become the first tetraplegic in the world to take part in a Tough Mudder challenge - navigating the 12-mile course on a wheelchair he controls with his chin (University of Bristol/PA)
The Tough Mudder is a gruelling event

A student will become the first tetraplegic in the world to take part in a Tough Mudder challenge - navigating the 12-mile course on a wheelchair he controls with his chin.

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Rob Camm, 21, was left paralysed from the neck down and reliant on a ventilator following a car crash in September 2013, a week before he was due to start university.

The keen rugby player, who suffered a C3 spinal injury in the crash, spent 96 days in intensive care before being transferred to a specialist spinal unit in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

He is now living with his family in Breadstone, Gloucestershire and has just passed his first year of studying politics and philosophy at the University of Bristol with a 2.1.

This weekend, he will tackle the Tough Mudder - dubbed "probably the toughest event on the planet" by organisers - alongside a team of family and friends to raise money for charity.

He will use his Extreme X8 wheelchair, an off-road electric which can reach speeds of up to 10km an hour, pull tree branches and even tow his father's car.

Mr Camm is raising money for SpecialEffect, a charity which provided him with an eye gaze computer - controlled by blinking and eye movement - when he was in hospital.

"I wanted to do a Tough Mudder before the accident and still want to do it now," he said.

"I've got a wheelchair that's capable of doing it, so I thought why not? It's a wheelchair set on top of a quad bike and I've not found anything that can stop it, yet."

Mr Camm will not be able to tackle all the obstacles on the course but will have to navigate bumpy and muddy terrains during the challenge, on August 23.

He will be joined by his father, Ian Camm, cousin Simon Camm, Tomos Wyn-Jones, Rob Telford, Ian Telford, Liam Kearns, Chris Wright, Simon James and Helen James.

The team have almost raised his fundraising target of £3,000 for SpecialEffect already and hope the funds will help provide technology to more disabled people.

A spokeswoman for Tough Mudder confirmed: "He's the first tetraplegic in the world to take on a Tough Mudder course."

After completing the challenge, Mr Camm will return to Bristol University to begin his second year of his course.

"I'm enjoying my studies a lot," he added.

"The university has been fantastic and my lecturers have been really supportive. It's good getting my life back to some extent."

A few weeks ago, Mr Camm visited the Robotics Science and Systems Conference in Rome, where he was able to walk thanks to an electronic robotic exoskeleton.

The wearable robot, called Rex, uses 79 electrodes attached to his skull, which read signals in his brain and convert them to movement.

"We got in touch with the developers initially as we thought the robot could help with physiotherapy as it's good for my body to keep moving in a natural way," he said.

"It's now developed into this amazing skeleton which I can control with my mind.

"To see my toes and feet move forwards was pretty incredible. For the past two years, I haven't seen that really so it's very unusual and it's quite enjoyable to see your body moving in that way.

"I've said I'm happy to be their test pilot so we will see what happens in the future."

To sponsor Mr Camm and his team visit their JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/Rob-Camm.

The Tough Mudder event will take place in Cirencester Park.

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