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‘He’s now like a new person’

Motocross racer Tony Grant has battled against the odds to rebuild his life and overcome brain injuries after a horrific bike accident.

Being involved in the accident has not affected the 22-year-old’s love of bikes as it is now his dream to get a job as a mechanic.

And to see if Mr Grant is up to getting a job, his mom Sonya Smith has set him the painstaking task of putting back together his own badly damaged bike.

The family has recently collected the smashed-up bike from the police compound to encourage Mr Grant to “test his mind and skills” by stripping and rebuilding it.

Mr Grant spent a month in intensive care at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and another month on a general ward after he crashed his bike into a sidewalk and tree in St. David’s on October 19.

He then spent a further three months at Spaulding Hospital in Boston undergoing aggressive speech, physical and occupational therapy to overcome his injuries. It is in Boston that he learned to talk and build up the strength to once again take care of himself.

Ms Smith said: “It’s been such a hard time for us all. To have him still here with us is just amazing.

“He’s had to learn everything all over again, but we’re just so happy to still have him. He’s really improved and is becoming more independent by the day”.

Mr Grant is currently doing voluntary work at WindReach but he remains on the lookout for a job “in a garage fixing up bikes”.

Ms Smith said: “Unfortunately his love of bikes is stronger than ever. Nothing we can say or do changes his mind.

“He’s determined to work with bikes, that’s all he’s interested in. It would be great if he could get a job or voluntary work as a mechanic. He doesn’t like being at home, he gets bored and prefers to be on the go”.

Mr Grant is currently undergoing speech therapy at KEMH, but he is not expected to need any further medical treatment after that. It comes after a January to April stay at Spaulding Hospital in Boston undergoing daily therapy.

He also had two operations in Boston after suffering breathing problems. The first operation unsuccessfully tried to expand his airwaves and the second removed part of his windpipe.

Ms Smith, who went to Boston with her son, said: “He started to do so much better when we were in Boston.

“He’s now like a new person. When we went he was quite withdrawn and depressed, but he’s now a lot happier in himself. He’s very lovable now and always wants to give us hugs.

“When we went he wasn’t talking at all. Now he can say sentences and if he can’t get it out, he knows to gesture. We used to have to do everything for him, but now he can take care of himself. He can get himself dressed and bathe himself. Boston made a huge difference”.

Mr Grant was only able to go to Spaulding Hospital in Boston after the community rallied around to raise $30,000 to cover his medical costs. This included company and individual donations, as well as school tag days and church fundraising events.

At the time of the accident, Mr Grant was on Government’s Health Insurance Plan, which does not cover overseas care.

Ms Smith said: “I am so forever grateful for what everyone did to help us. He wouldn’t have made this much progress if it wasn’t for everyone’s fundraising. I can’t thank people enough”.

Mr Grant doesn’t remember the bike accident and continues to suffer from short-term memory problems, but his mom added: “He’s doing just great, we are so proud of how much he has achieved in such a short time”.

Sonja Smith kisses her son Tony Grant before he flew to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Massachusetts for treatment after his November accident.(Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published August 30, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated August 30, 2011 at 9:54 am)

‘He’s now like a new person’

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