The Lifetime Support Authority (LSA) hosted a Lifetime Support Scheme (LSS) Participant Forum in May 2021. This was the first forum held face-to-face in 2021. One of the speakers was LSS participant, Steve Blenkinsop. The following is a synopsis of his story, as he told it.
Steve Blenkinsop is ranked top 10 in the world in hang-gliding. In August 2019, after recently returning home to SA from a world hang-gliding championship event in Italy, Steve was riding his pushbike to work, as he had for the past 17 years.
On this day, he met head-on with a car. Steve’s physical injuries were significant, including internal bleeding, bruising and breakages. Steve needed extensive reconstructive surgery on his face but one of his unseen injuries is a diffuse axonal injury (DAI) which is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). His various medical teams and health professionals are astounded at the extent of recovery, given the severity of injuries Steve suffered.
An important factor in Steve’s health and wellbeing progress was his level of fitness, which put him in good stead to navigate the physical and mental challenges he faced and continues to navigate. In his presentation at the forum, Steve told of the support he received from the LSA, his medical team and other health professionals. Steve also recognises a large part of his recovery has been the support he received from his family.
A high point of his life was being with his family at the world hang-gliding championships immediately before his accident. Describing his ongoing recovery as a series of small steps, Steve recalled the first Christmas gathering with the extended family as a very big thing for him and also the family to see for themselves that he was able to talk and walk around for a period during the gathering.
While Steve spoke of his ongoing recovery, extent of his injuries and the impact it has had on him, his family and friends, his story is tinged with wit and humour, and he recalled one of the few memories he had during post-traumatic amnesia is how very bad the hospital food is! Steve also describes as ironic that his accident coincided with COVID-19, the ‘world’s accident’. As a result of the ‘world’s accident’, the hang-gliding rankings were frozen and oddly Steve has now gone from 7 to 6, although he hasn’t competed.
August 2021 marked 2 years since his accident and as Steve continues his rehabilitation, from September 2021, he will no longer require the support of the Lifetime Support Scheme, making his, a success story. Steve is back in his teaching role, a job he loves, on a part-time basis and has reconnected with bike riding and hang-gliding, although more recreational than competitive.
With the love and support from his family and friends, and working with his medical and rehabilitation team, Steve continues to learn about traumatic brain injury and how to live his best life with the invisible injury.