VIEW THE VIDEO: Paralysed Wrawby man Mark Hornby stands up for first time in 26 years
A Wrawby man who was left wheelchair-bound after being hit by a car has stood for the first time in 26 years.
Mark Hornby sustained serious head injuries in 1986, which blocked the signals his brain needed to send to move his limbs.
Doctors at the time warned his parents that he would be like a “vegetable”.
But in an effort to prove them wrong, he has spent the last 12 years retraining his brain cells to increase his mobility.
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Now, thanks to exercise and incredible effort, the 47-year-old is able to stand unaided for a minute at a time – a simple task for many adults, but a massive achievement for Mark.
Amazingly, he can stand for seven minutes by holding a frame with one hand.
And thanks to Mark’s training at John Turner’s Black Belt Academy in Brigg, he is able to smash sturdy wooden martial arts boards with a blow of his hand.
Now there is hope Mark will eventually be able to walk again.
He was left wheelchair-bound after he was hit by a car while crossing the road in 1986 when he was 21.
Mark has been attending the academy since it opened its doors in 2000.
But little did he think exercising there would help him strike up the confidence and strength to get back on his feet.
“I like coming here,” said Mark. “It’s a very good dojang (training hall) to come to do my exercises.
“It’s made me much more flexible. John has made me stand and I’ve been breaking wooden boards.
“When I’m warming up and John tells me to stand for 10 seconds, I always increase my targets and I say make it 20.
“He gets me to recite about how I am calm, I am positive, I am confident in order to control my breathing.”
Mark’s Dad, Bob Hornby, 79, said: “We didn’t think he would live, to be honest. He had massive head and internal injuries and he broke his legs so has been in a wheelchair and we were told he always would be.”
The exercise Mark has done at the training school has made him physically much stronger. On Monday readers can view a video of him breaking a wooden board in half with his fist at www.thisisscunthorpe.co.uk
Speaking about Mark’s remarkable journey, John Turner said: “We are now on the brink of something phenomenal.
“I really believe Mark will be walking in the not too distant future. He has the determination, perseverance and spirit to make it happen.”
John worked on exercises for Mark and it has all helped Mark to get out of his wheelchair.
“When he first came into the academy, he didn’t know if he could do anything, so I taught him some hand techniques. I’m not experienced with disabled people but that’s how it started and he eventually moved on to hand hitting, using nunchucks – a type of martial arts fighting sticks – and board breaking.”
Equipment being used in his training there is helping him to reach his goals.
“I got him a new tripod frame and he’s now standing with that and I’ve got him using his feet in a certain manner,” said John.
“I read an article about using the toenails – this involves using the toes, ball of the foot and heel to help you stand.
“He’s made some great progress – it’s been a long time since he first started coming here, but it’s a long process.
“I’m waiting for the day when I can leave him there for a good few minutes so he can stand unaided.
“I get him in between the target pads so he’s got something to touch if he loses his balance. He’s got strength in his body to stand – the challenge now is overcoming his mind, so that’s why we’re using the ancient martial arts methods of mind, body and spirit. I’m hoping this year he will be fully standing. I know he can do it – he’s not giving up.”
WE'RE VERY PROUD OF MARK - HE HAS EVERYTHING TO LIVE FOR
The parents of Mark Hornby say martial arts has given their son “everything to live for” after it dramatically increased his mobility.
Mark is celebrating with a smile after being able to stand for the first time in almost 26 years.
And his parents have given thanks to John Turner, owner of John Turner’s Black Belt Academy in Brigg, who has worked closely with Mark over the last 12 years to enhance his mobility by carrying out various martial arts exercises.
Mark was hit by a car when he was a student at the University of Bradford in 1986.
His condition was very serious and he spent many months being unconscious.
He spent almost a year in Hull Royal Infirmary and was later transferred to Castle Hill Hospital to start his rehabilitation.
Since the accident, Mark has been determined to get his life back on track.
Mark’s Dad, Bob Hornby, 79, is impressed with how his son’s condition has improved.
He said: “When we were told he might not live altogether, we didn’t want doctors to switch off the machines because when it’s your son, you do anything you can possible.
“He was unconscious for at least nine months.
“Mark has a fantastic sense of humour and that’s what’s kept him alive and going forward – he’s got his own house now and we have carers going in 24/7.
“It’s been 26 years since his accident and he still has everything to live for. He’s doing ever so well.”
His parents are grateful for all the support John Turner has given Mark over the years – and believe his son’s progress is thanks to him.
Mr Hornby said: “John is absolutely brilliant with him. He encourages him to go forward all the time. John can make him stand, he’s very strong.
“I never thought he could do that on his own – it’s all down to John – his improvement both physically and mentally.”
His mum Liz, 76, said: “I am proud of him. When he first came home from hospital he could do very little. They more or less told us to put him in a home because they said he would be like a vegetable and we wouldn’t be able to look after him, but I wanted to give it a try.
It’s been 26 years since his accident and he still has everything to live for
“His body has built new brain cells over the years. He’s had to build up the repetition of sending the signal that he wants to stand until it clicks into place.
“It’s been a very long and slow process. Every year he can do something that he couldn’t do the last, but it’s small progress all the same.”