49-year-old Mal Rose from Yateley recently left the RAF after a 30-year career. During his time in the RAF Mal represented the RAF’s triathlon team and Team GB in his age group but this all changed in January 2016 when Mal was hit side-on by a car while on a training ride. However, Mal has not let this stop his love of sport and he recently returned from the Invictus Games with a gold medal in the 100m wheelchair track racing along with two silvers in the 200m and 400m respectively.
Mal’s accident in 2016 left him with broken bones in his neck and T4/T5/T6 with a complete dislocation leaving Mal paralysed from T4. Further injuries included broken ribs, shoulder, collarbone and collapsed lungs and as result of these injuries, Mal spent nine months in hospital followed by two and a half years of monthly stays at Headley Court. It was while at Headley Court that Mal first tried out the TiLite manual wheelchair from Gerald Simonds.
“While you are at Headley Court, you have the opportunity to try out various different pieces of equipment to find out what works best for you and as soon as I sat in a TiLite Zra it was unlike any other wheelchair I had sat in since my accident. It was so lightweight and therefore much easier to manoeuvre and was also quicker. I then met up with Caroline Smith who is one of the back experts at Gerald Simonds at Headley Court who took all the necessary measurements to ensure it was perfect for me. There is nothing like getting your own wheelchair which has been modified to your exact requirements and measurements. As the TiLite Zra is rigid it is easier to transfer in and out of and this combined with the lightweight design means once I have removed the cushion and wheels it is light enough for me to put in the car so I can travel independently which is something every wheelchair user values greatly,” commented Mal.
Available in over 20 frame finishes and six colour anodise packages, the TiLite ZRA Series 2 is a custom-built wheelchair which provides the user with superb levels of comfort, manoeuvrability and independence. One of the most popular features of Mal’s wheelchair is the adjustable camber mount which incorporates the TiLite Tru-Fit System which provides Mal with up to 3.5” of Rear Seat Height Adjustment
As with every Gerald Simonds representative, when Caroline is measuring a client for a new wheelchair, she will take into account all their needs. Mal commented to Caroline that the seat cushion he had been using was extremely thick and heavy and full of gel which would get very warm and also increased the weight of his wheelchair. This was extremely uncomfortable for Mal, so Caroline suggested Mal try out the Stimulite pressure management solutions for which they are the sole UK distributor. “The Stimulite Contoured XS cushion I went for is brilliant. It is extremely lightweight and great for my skin as it allows it to breath and has therefore significantly reduced the risk of me getting pressure sores, and when it needs cleaning you literally throw it in the washing machine in a special bag which is provided. Since my accident, I had always experienced a lot of back pain where I still had feeling and when I explained this to Caroline, she suggested I try out the J3 back rest and the difference was fantastic. It has without doubt reduced my back pain and provided me with great lateral support and stability which is great as I have no core,” continued Mal.
The final product Gerald Simmonds supplied to Mal was the FreeWheel. Mal wanted to be able to go over more uneven terrain than just the usual concrete/tarmac etc but was unsure if this was suitable for his TiLite but once again Caroline and Gerald Simonds had a solution in the shape of the FreeWheel. “The FreeWheel was literally the final piece in the jigsaw as it meant I could travel over rougher terrain safe in the knowledge that my chair would be able to cope.”
Sport has been a massive part of Mal’s life since he was a child and once he had come to terms with the extent of his injuries he was determined not to give up the sports he loved and once out of hospital started looking into Para Sport and potentially the Invictus Games.
“After talking to friends and family, I submitted my application to the Invictus Games organisers and was delighted when I was told I had been accepted for Sydney. The Games were without doubt one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I was lucky enough to share it with my parents, wife and children who all travelled with me, and to return with three medals was the icing on the cake.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Caroline and everyone else at Gerald Simonds, the four products they have supplied to me have all been superb and their knowledge is second to none. I would not hesitate in recommending Gerald Simonds to anyone with a spinal injury, they have a huge range of products and always go the extra mile to help the user to increase their comfort and independence as much as possible,” concluded Mal.