Rider invents ground-breaking device to help return from injury

  • A rider who suffered a nasty fall has invented a medically-recognised device to help others in similar situations.

    Barbara Thompson, managing director of Angel Med, broke her collarbone in a fall at home in 2008.

    “I left outpatients in terrible pain with an inadequate collar and cuff sling, like most people do,” she said.

    “I was desperate to ease the excruciating pain and somehow avoid inevitable surgery and I cobbled together a crude prototype.

    “It eased the pain and I healed really well and much faster than expected.”

    The ClaviBrace design, which was created to relieve pain and help with healing, has been evaluated by shoulder surgeons Professor Angus Wallace and Ian Bayley. It also won a Da Vinci medical breakthrough award in 2010.

    Barbara has now worked the design into a gilet, which is also marketed as a posture improver, and is working with eventer Tina Canton on refining it further.

    Tina broke her collarbone in four places and was knocked out in a rotational fall in a novice section this season. The horse (not pictured) was not injured.

    Her collarbone was operated on and she was later fitted with the gilet (pictured, top).

    “I was interested in the support and protection and being able to get back riding,” said Tina, who is back in the saddle.

    “I don’t ride without it — it makes me feel secure. I can move in it and it makes me feel very supported.

    “[As a rider] Barbara understands how much movement you need when you are riding.”

    Tina in competition. Credit: Julia Shearwood

    The gilet brace hides key components of the brace which work to elongate a broken collarbone and stabilise the fracture to encourage natural healing.

    It stabilises the pelvis, aligns the spine and strengthens the shoulders to give core strength.

    Mr Bayley has also worked with Barbara to design an “upper armour”, which works with the gilet to control excessive and potentially damaging movement.

    Tina is the first person to wear this and said she wears both “anytime I go near a horse”.

    Nottinghamshire-based Tina has competed up to advanced and specialises in producing competition horses and teaching.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday

    You may like...