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|Posted by: Charles Apr 22 2018, 01:47 PM|
| Cattleman defies horse-riding brain injury to walk for first time in 18 years
Inga Stünzner and Jacquie Mackay
Photo: Michael Ingram loves nothing more than to get outside and inspect his Droughtmaster cattle. (ABC Capricornia: Inga Stünzner)
It looks easy — standing in the middle of a paddock.
But it has taken Michael Ingram almost two decades of hard work and determination to get to this point.
The central Queensland cattle breeder acquired a brain injury 18 years ago when he fell off his horse while mustering, leaving him unable to walk or use the right side of his body.
"I was unconscious for eight weeks and in hospital for 10 months and when I woke, I thought it was the next morning and I thought, 'Where the bloody hell am I?'," Mr Ingram recalled.
"I tried to move, but I couldn't."
Within a year, he was back on his horse, but was still unable to walk.
All this changed eight months ago when he pulled a muscle and made the trip to Rockhampton to see a physiotherapist.
The physiotherapist put him in touch with the head coach at the gym, Glenn Hansen, who embarked on the journey to have Mr Ingram stand and walk without an aid.
"I was in a wheelchair and they said I would never walk again, but here I am walking," Mr Ingram said.
"I wish I had met Glenn 15 years ago."
Photo: Michael Ingram travels the 250km-round trip to get to the gym twice a week. (ABC Capricornia: Christopher Davies)
Mr Ingram makes the 250 kilometre round trip from his property in Duaringa to Rockhampton twice a week to attend his gym sessions, and every couple of months he will come in five days a week.
These two-hour sessions are made up of repetitive exercises — lifting his legs, squeezing a ball — and it is hard work.
His speech has improved dramatically and he is able to stand and walk short distances unassisted.
"I am just like a little kid walking."
The changes are more than physical — they have opened up another world to Mr Ingram.
"I get to meet a lot of lovely people and that's the biggest thing I've found," he said.
After Mr Ingram had his accident, he returned to his family home in Alpha in western Queensland, where he was isolated and had no communication.
He bought his Duaringa property three years ago, which has put him in better contact with the outside world and made this rehabilitation possible.
"I used to be very talkative, and then I became not so talkative and it's helped me come back."
Standing among his cattle on his property is a remarkable achievement, but Mr Ingram is not going to stop there.
He has an ambitious goal.
"I will walk into the Droughtmaster judging at Beef 2018, which is only two weeks away," he said.
Mr Ingram breeds Droughtmaster cattle and the expo Beef 2018, held in Rockhampton every three years, is one of the world's large beef cattle events.
Measuring the progress
There is no doubt in Mr Hansen's mind that Mr Ingram will be walking up a set of stairs onto the stage at Beef 2018.
"I said, 'right, you're going to walk 20 metres up onto that stage and away you go and you're going to do that without any walking aids'," Mr Hansen said.
Photo: Glenn Hansen is working on Michael Ingram's balance so he can right himself if he falls. (ABC Capricornia: Inga Stünzner)
"And that has probably sparked him and that's what's created this push in the last six to eight weeks because he can see it's going to happen — he knows it's going to happen," Mr Hansen said.
Mr Ingram walked more than 100 metres during a recent session and although that might not sound like much, it used to take him 20 minutes to walk 30 metres.
"Now he can get there in seven minutes and it looks good," Mr Hansen said.
The challenge has been having Mr Ingram see his progress and knowing the limitations.
"Brain injuries can be very challenging because it's not like having a broken leg, where you can see the progress," Mr Hansen said.
"He tries really hard, he never gives in and he tries too hard sometimes and that's just born into the fact that it's just hard work."
"I think the one word I would use to describe Michael is inspirational.
"I would almost 99 per cent guarantee most people have not faced a challenge as great as he is facing right now."
"The lesson to take away from this story is to appreciate what you've been given, appreciate what you have, because one day it can be taken away in an instant.
"Sometimes it will come back and sometimes it won't, but in between that there's a hell of a lot of work to actually get what you want."
Graham and Vicki Bell have been living with Mr Ingram as his carers for the past three years and they have witnessed the change.
"It's made a huge difference — they came here when I first came here and we've grown up together," Mr Ingram said.
The couple, who spent years travelling around the country as caretakers on people's properties, first met Mr Ingram five years ago.
Photo: Mr Ingram's carers, Vicki and Graham Bell, have noticed the big change. (ABC Capricornia: Inga Stünzner)
While the Bells note the physical changes, one of the biggest changes has been Mr Ingram's mental health. Ms Bell puts it down to the fact he is now meeting younger people in Rockhampton.
"Not just two oldies like us — it's a much better environment for him," Ms Bell said.
Before, he was welded to his phone and rarely ventured out of the house.
"He was inclined to be a bit depressed," Ms Bell said.
Now Mr Ingram has built into his gym routine going out for coffee and meeting up with his daughter and son, who are in boarding school.
He is also more involved with work and will ride a four-wheeler to muster and help in the cattle yards, although Mr Bell does most of the outside work.
"Michael can stand on his own and look at his cattle, and he couldn't do that eight months ago," Mr Bell said.
"He would fall over."
Even on the morning the ABC visited, Mr Ingram was out fencing, something he would not have done a year before.
"We went and fixed up a fence where we were straining a few posts and putting a few extra wires in … and I wanted Michael to come down and give me a hand," Mr Bell said.
"It probably took him twice as long, but I want him to get outside.
"Before, he wouldn't come out of the house and he'd be on his phone," Mr Bell laughed.
Mr Ingram's next goal is to attend the Droughtmaster National Bull Sale in Gracemere in September, where he will sell bulls from his newly established stud.
The strength of human spirit and alternative therapies can often defy the opinions of medical experts. Full credit to Michael Ingram and Glen Hansen for what they have achieved. In addition, the work of his carers, Vicki and Graham Bell, shouldn't be under-estimated.
|Posted by: charka Apr 22 2018, 03:41 PM|
|That is so good|
|Posted by: Alicia Apr 22 2018, 04:06 PM|
|An uplifting story, great to see what has been achieved by sheer hard work.|
|Posted by: scepo Apr 23 2018, 04:03 PM|
| Sure is a good news story.
What a courageous man and well done to those who have helped and supported him also.