An inline skater who was cared for at St Helier Hospital as he recovered from a life-threatening brain injury is set to launch a new initiative to encourage skaters to wear helmets.
Rob Glanville, a 37 year old ‘first generation’ inline skater from Wallington, suffered a serious brain injury in a skating accident in Hammersmith on June 7 2015, and was rushed to St Mary’s Intensive Care Unit by ambulance, where crucial brain surgery was performed to save his life. He was then transferred to St Helier Hospital where he began intensive rehabilitation work to learn how to swallow, talk, drink, eat stand and walk again.
Rob sustained the injury whilst attempting to do a ‘wall-ride’ (a trick where a skater will jump and put both feet on a vertical wall whilst skating along it at speed). Whilst performing the trick, Rob slid backwards along the wall, and hit his head on a brick protruding from it. He was knocked unconscious and came crashing down onto the hard concrete pavement on his head, where he then suffered a seizure.
The injury caused a haemorrhage (sub-dural haematoma) and blood clot which had to be removed via a craniotomy (where part of the skull is removed in order to gain access to the injury) and subsequent cranioplasty (surgery to repair the damaged skull). Rob’s injury was incredibly serious; on the night he was admitted, his family and then wife were told that he may not make it through the night.
Thankfully, Rob is recovering well from his injury, and is now back to full time work and is even skating again. To celebrate the achievement, he recently released a video with the help of his best friend (and professional film-maker) Mr Ed (Edward) Inglis, in which he thanks NHS staff (including the therapists on Ward C4 at St Helier) and shows off his progress in getting back on his skates. Rob now always wears a helmet and is aiming to start up a charity called ‘Lids Save Lives’, which aims to promote helmet use within the sport.
Joint Medical Director Dr Ruth Charlton, said: “It’s great to see that Rob is recovering well and is back to doing what he loves, although I am particularly pleased to see that he always wears a helmet now.
“Rob’s serious accident goes to show that even the most experienced, talented sports people can be very badly injured, and it only takes a split second for fast-paced sports like skating to go horribly wrong. I would urge everyone who skates, cycles or even those who scoot to school to wear a helmet and protective clothing – even if you’re not trying to pull off impressive tricks like Rob, a serious bang on the head can have a devastating impact. I know it can be very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to get properly geared up before you start, but those extra few minutes it takes to gear up could potentially save you or someone else’s life, so don’t take the risk.”
Rob said: “I have been skating since I was 8 years old (Rob is now 37, so that’s a skating career spanning almost 30 years) and skating is my passion, so to have an injury that made it impossible for me to even walk – leaving me with the prospect of never being able to skate again – was very frightening. I was very lucky that I managed to recover and can now go back to work and carry on skating, but I think it’s really important that people learn from my experience, and don’t go through what I have done – it could very easily have turned out much worse for me!
“This incident has taught me a valuable, whilst also incredibly hard, lesson. That I (and everyone else for that matter) should always wear a helmet when out skating (or taking part in a similar activity). Having a serious accident is one of those things that you never think will happen to you, until it does; so don’t take the risk - wearing a helmet really could save your life! This is why I want to start my charity – Lids Save Lives, to help promote helmet use in the sport, and to encourage more people to start wearing them.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my family for all of their ongoing love and support. I would also like to thank my friends, the ambulance and emergency services staff, and the consultants and nurses who treated me, as without their quick response, support and medical expertise, I would not be here today. I am deeply grateful for everything that the NHS has done for me in my return to health, and to everyone who has helped me get through this very difficult time in my life.”
Dr Charlton added: “I think it’s fantastic that Rob has decided to start his own charity to try and encourage more people to wear helmets – we need more people like Rob to come forward to try and break the stigma around helmet use in extreme sports - acting as role models for children and younger people and making helmets seem less ‘uncool’.
If you would like to watch Rob in action, you can see his video here: https://vimeo.com/264730036.