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December update on Harry

Thank you for all the messages about Harry over the past ten weeks, which we’ve both really appreciated. Harry’s been on a slow road to recovery, with the head injury being the main concern. 


His first month was pretty awful as he was experiencing a severe spinning sensation with the eyesgyrating in a rapid spasming spiral. This was very unpleasant and nausiating, and he also slurred his speech, particularly when tired. 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 re-training.


Although he is still struggling with balance and vision, he has been increasingly up and about​ over the last month​ and is glad to now be able to proactively work on his ​recovery. 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​ tip​ping​over the edge and him being wip​ed ​​out​. 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.


He’s been working daily on exercises given by ​the rehab specialists for eye-brain function and balance​. These involve training the eyes to remain focused on an object whilst nodding or shaking the head, or tracking a slowly moving object without the eyes skipping. The balance exercises started with elementary training like shutting the eyes and turning his head without falling, which have progressed to more advanced dynamic balance tests in order to recalibrate some of the malfunctioning aspects of the brain. 


This has helped enormously, but it takes it out of him. The limiting factor for progress has been how quiet we’ve been able to keep his brain, which then keeps him in a state to be able to progress with the aid of the exercises. 


He ​recently ​had ​​x-rays taken of his broken arm​, which​ is looking really good​ – or as good as it’s likely to considering what it looked like before, given the unhealed breaks from shattering his arms in 2013.


​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 was​n'​t​ a lot​ worse. Our aim is to ensure that he is fit and well to start the 2021 season. 


If you want to get in touch with Harry then please don't hesitate to contact Rosie by email (harrymeadeoffice@gmail.com) as he's been overwhelmed with messages and is not yet able to manage these on his phone.  All messages via Rosie are being passed on, as have those already sent to Harry's phone.


Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a better 2021.


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