The Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation has released its 2016 Summer Safety Tips, in conjunction with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, in an effort to educate the public on spinal injuries ahead of the warmer months.
Over 12,000 recorded cases of spinal injury are recorded in Australia and each year, more than 300 new incidents surface. The impacts of spinal cord injury are usually life-long and devastating.
C2 ventilated quadriplegic, motivational speaker and founder of the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation, Perry Cross, says water-related incidents are one of the main causes of spinal cord injuries in Queensland and with the weather heating up, locals need to be reminded of safety messages.
“A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone and at anytime,” says Perry.
“It is imperative that everyone is reminded about general water safety, particularly as we enter the warmer months here in Australia.
“Every day in our country, more than one person sustains a spinal cord injury and many of these individuals are under the age of 24.
“Here in Queensland, a lot of spinal injuries occur from water-based activities such as diving into shallow water, body boarding accidents, jumping head first into pools and the surf, and swimming under the influence of alcohol.”
Gold Coast local Paul Shearer dove into the surf at Burleigh Beach in 2003, at the age of 17, and broke his neck, leaving him a C5 tetraplegic. He says the message of surf safety must be taken seriously.
“I was at a family BBQ at the beach at Burleigh on Christmas Day and dove into the water and hit a sandbank,” says Mr Shearer.
“There had been a lot of rain the previous week, so the sand had moved around a lot. I had been swimming all morning and I went in for one more swim. I dove into a wave and I couldn’t get back up. I thought I had just tripped, so I tried to regain my balance, it all happened in a split second.
“My sister pulled me up but I was starting to lose consciousness. A stranger walking past saw that something was very wrong. He tried to keep me as still as possible in the water, and held his hand over my face whenever a wave came. I was rushed to hospital and ended up spending 13 months in the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. I can use my shoulders and my biceps but nothing else.
“It’s important for everyone to listen and educate themselves on surf safety and I appreciate the work and effort that Perry and his foundation put into increasing such awareness.”
Chief Gold Coast Lifeguard, Warren Young says swimmers must always taken precautions in the water, no matter how experienced they are.
“No matter how advanced a swimmer is, it’s important to always swim between the red and yellow flags, check local surf reports and talk with your local lifeguards about conditions at the beach,” says Mr Young.
“Tides, undertows and sandbanks can change at anytime, so while the beach is an enjoyable and fun place, it’s important to always be aware of the possible dangers too.
“Walk into the water first and check the depth and look for any debris that may have washed in. Always swim with a friend in case of an emergency and never dive into shallow water.”
The other major causes of spinal cord injuries in Australia are road accidents, falls and sports.
Perry Cross travels across the world sharing his powerful messages and has become a tremendous role model for the human spirit. A rugby tackle in 1994, at the age of 19, left him a C2 ventilated quadriplegic.
In 1996, he became Australia’s first motivational speaker on life support and was runner up in the prestigious International Communicator of the Year awards. Perry has completed a Bachelor of Business and Communications at Bond University – another groundbreaking first.
A published author and founder of the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation, Perry is a true visionary and humble leader. The Foundation’s vision is to find a cure for paralysis.