Isle of Lewis angler makes ‘reel’ progress after serious bike accident

An Isle of Lewis man involved in a serious bicycle accident is well on the road to recovery, thanks to his unique rehabilitation programme.

Monday, 21st September 2020, 11:54 am
L-R – Nurse - Tracey McKissack, Physiotherapist - Susan Gilhespie, Patient - Robbie Bell, Occupational Therapist - Amanda Howat

Keen angler Robbie Bell has been undergoing treatment at at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital s National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow.

Part of his rehabilitation has seen him in the hospital grounds casting off with a fishing rod, which has played a key role in allowing him to regain feeling in his limbs.

In less than six weeks Robbie has gone from not being able to move anything below the neck, to being in a position to walk out of the hospital and head home.

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Robbie Bell with his fishing rod, donated by Loop.

Robbie was rushed to the spinal unit six weeks ago after falling from his bike on the way home from visiting friends.

He thought he might never walk again after being diagnosed with Incomplete Tetraplegia – which resulted in partial paralysis and loss of sensation of his limbs and torso.

However, thanks to the work of the team at the National Spinal Injuries Unit and a rod kindly donated by fishing company Loop, coupled with his own determination, Robbie is up and able to move about with the assistance of a walking frame.

And, most importantly, he’s now able to look forward to getting back to fishing before the end of the salmon season.

Robbie said: “The staff have been excellent in helping support me on the road to recovery since I was admitted to the Spinal Unit in August.

“There were points where I thought I’d never walk again but taking things as they come, and making gradual improvements in my movement over the past six weeks has got me into a position where I can look forward to catching the end of the fishing season up north.

“I’d like to thank the team at the QEUH and a huge thanks to Loop who were kind enough to donate a brand new fishing rod to help as part of my rehab.”

Occupational therapist Amanda Howat and Physiotherapist Susan Gilhespie, who have been working closely with Robbie since he was admitted, highlighted the importance of patients having interest focused rehabilitation as part of their recovery process.

Amanda said: “For any rehab patient, the journey to recovery can be long and difficult.

“Anything to make that slightly easier, and to keep patients motivated, is a huge advantage.

“Robbie has been able to practice doing something he loves, and that has provided additional motivation for him to get back on his feet.

“It’s fantastic to see how quickly he’s progressed.

“The intricacies involved in building the rod and setting up the reel mechanism, alongside the casting motion, have helped exercise Robbie’s dexterity.

“He’s been out in the hospital grounds whenever possible to practice casting ahead of his discharge from hospital.”