Michael Dring

Michael Dring was 23 years old when he broke his neck in a road traffic accident, resulting in paralysis from the upper chest down – medically he is classified as having a complete Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) resulting in Tetraplegia (level C6).

 

As a result Michael has been dependant on the use of an electric wheelchair ever since. The severity of his injury requires the assistance of multiple carers as well a huge support from primarily his wife, family and friends to undertake some of the most basic daily tasks – this includes the need of being transported to wherever/whenever he needs or wishes to go.

 

Michael is now 36, his rehabilitation has been very difficult, with numerous ups and downs and over the years. During this period he has married Stefanie his childhood sweetheart, returned to his former employers, Bristol City Council on a part time basis, and immersed himself in the urban art world.  In 2007, Michael and Stefanie were instrumental in setting up the much lauded art show ‘The 12 Days of Xmas’ in Bristol’s famous ‘Old Bridewell’ police station, www.12daysofxmas.co.uk,  and have set up a website, www.art-el.co.uk, to promote and give wider exposure to the work of local artists both established and unknown.

 

Michael’s positive attitude has been an inspiration to many.  A regular contributor in the media to debates on disability as well as urban art, he provides support and guidance to others who have experienced severe spinal injuries through peer support groups managed by the Salisbury Spinal Injuries Rehab Unit and his local NHS trust.

 

Technology had moved on at such a pace that motor car manufactures can now provide modified vehicles with control systems that can interface with electronic wheelchairs – the problem is this technology is very expensive.  Michael passed an initial driving assessment in January 2009, the cost of the vehicle required is estimated to be approximately £75,000.  Michael has a full assessment in May 2009, after which a full technology specification will be made and cost confirmed.  The technology will allow Michael to safely drive a motor vehicle independently.  After talking with Michael it was evident that access to one of these cars would transform his quality of life and give him the freedom which he has not had over the past fifteen years or so.   

Michael’s current vehicle is a Peugeot Expert.  This vehicle has been lowered and adapted with a rear access ramp, however he cannot even drive his electric wheelchair up this ramp without assistance.  During journeys he sits behind the driver and whilst the vehicle has served a purpose it’s time to move on.


The possibility of obtaining a fully adapted vehicle via the Motability scheme has been investigated, however an advance payment that currently stands at £20,482 is required.  This has to be paid again every 5 years when the vehicle becomes subject to renewal under the scheme or alternatively there is the option to buy out the vehicle, so whichever way the vehicle is obtained it is at great expense.

‘It would be untrue of me to say that I quickly adapted to my disability and life in a wheelchair.  It has taken nearly a decade to fully adapt and learn to cope with this. It’s an over used phrase but as with everything in life you have to look and focus on the positives and the stark reality is that there are many  others in life a lot worse off. You have a choice to be bitter or to be better and with a older and wiser head i definitely go with the latter. An adapted vehicle that I could drive would be not only another HUGE positive leap forwards it would be another potentially life changing enhancement’

(Michael Dring 2009)  

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