Harry was dragged when his foot caught in the stirrup in a fall at fence three on the cross-country.
An update on Harry’s website yesterday (21 December) explained that the first month after the accident was “pretty awful”.
“[Harry] was experiencing a severe spinning sensation with the eyes gyrating in a rapid spasming spiral. This was very unpleasant and nauseating, and he also slurred his speech, particularly when tired,” said the update.
“After a month in bed he was diagnosed with BPPV (damage to the brain’s vestibular system) resulting from the significant head trauma. This involves the tiny calcium crystals in the inner ear which sense gravity becoming dislodged and ending up in the wrong canals.
“The BPPV was treated by a specialist concussion rehab physio who performed the Epley manoeuvre to treat the spinning sensation. This bizarre treatment involves sequential movement of the head into four different positions in order to move the crystals back to the correct canals. The crystals being in wrong position were sending incorrect messages to the brain. This treatment was done on both sides of his head and miraculously sorted the spinning, but left the brain in need of retraining.”
Over the past month, Harry has been increasingly up and about and able to work proactively on his recovery, with daily exercises given by the rehab specialists for eye-brain function and balance.
“He’s had a few setbacks as he’s only been able to cope with small amounts of stimulation, but the better he feels the more active his mind becomes, before tipping over the edge and him being wiped out,” said the update.
“This has led to a return of symptoms of vertigo and disturbed vision, which then takes a few days to subside. He’s struggled badly with sleep throughout, which is not unusual with a brain injury, but is immensely frustrating as sleep is perhaps the most important part of brain recovery.”
Harry broke his right arm in the fall and recent X-rays show this looks “as good as it’s likely to considering what it looked like before, given the unhealed breaks from shattering his arms in 2013”.
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The update finishes with thank-yous to Harry and his wife Rosie’s support team at this time: “We’re so grateful to our home team who have been unwavering in their support, and the riders who have very kindly stepped in to ride the horses in Harry’s absence. We also owe a lot to our brilliant physio Beth Borthwick who has virtually lived with us and is overseeing Harry’s recovery, and the World Class Programme through whom we’ve also had the support of Hobbs Concussion specialists; they have designed Harry’s rehab programme and been central to his progress.
“Harry remains upbeat and grateful that the outcome wasn’t a lot worse. Our aim is to ensure that he is fit and well to start the 2021 season.”
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