Paralysed dad of three, Simon Kindleysides, has stepped up his marathon training in the revolutionary ReWalk exo-suit
Not content with being a guest singing judge on the hit Saturday night TV show, All Together Now, Simon is in full-on training mode for London Marathon.
“Training is in full swing I've been signed off as independent walking for the suit, the gym is my new home but it's got to be done."
In April 2013 Simon's life was turned upside down. The talented singer was hospitalised after losing feeling and movement from the waist down.
After months in hospital and numerous tests later, he was diagnosed with a neurological brain condition and a brain tumour.
“Up until the point of diagnosis, life had been great, it has been hard to accept and deal with my life changing diagnosis. However, I continue to fight on, my wheelchair is now a part of me now like an expensive pair of shoes!
“I've always dreamt of taking part in the London Marathon, I never thought I'd get the opportunity again after my diagnosis. That was until ReWalk exoskeleton came into the picture. I'm aiming to complete the marathon over two days approximately 35 hours."
Since then Simon has been training to walk with the exo-suit. With just ten weeks or so to go until the starting line, its' all about Simon's stamina and fine tuning the suit.
“The most difficult part of the training is concentration as when I'm walking in it, it feels like how I use to be able to walk so I forget I'm in the suit, it's amazing"
“We will be increasing the step length from the hip movement as I have long legs, which turn out to be a bonus. It can be tweaked so I can take longer steps instead of small ones, so I'll be able to cover more ground and it will be less exhausting in theory, as I can get a more sustainable walking rhythm."
Suited and booted
The ReWalk suit isn't practically tricky to use, says Simon. The focus for him will be to maintain concentration and remembering what he needs to do. The suit won't function properly without Simon's input from his upper body.
“I have to shift my body weight front to back, side to side, as required, in order for the suit to recognise my intention to walk, for it to mimic the walking motion.
“The suit supports my body weight; however, I have to support my weight using my core strength and also with the aid of the crutches.
“I've learnt how to lean backwards and forwards in the suit, like a tipping motion."
Of course, none of this would be possible without his support team; friends, family and the experts from ReWalk. They've been with him all the way and will be key to him completing the challenge.
“I have a great team around me. They're helping my dreams come true. The last mile to the finish line is going to be very emotional but a huge buzz.
“It will be a moment I will never forget. Something my children can say at school; 'my dad was the first man in an exo-suit ever to walk the London Marathon.' They're so proud."