Bobby and Amy: Mental wellbeing support for children with a spinal cord injury

Meet Bobby and his family:

  • Bobby loves playing wheelchair basketball as well as video games – his favourite is Mario!
  • Has a brother with cerebral palsy, who also uses a wheelchair
  • The whole family loves getting out and about, especially visiting National Trust spaces

Spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time, and the impact can affect everyone around the injured individual. In seven-year-old Bobby’s case, he sustained his injury during birth.

According to his mum Amy, it was discovered that Bobby was in a breech position during her planned caesarean – resulting in his head being stuck beneath her ribcage.

“I remember there was suddenly panic in the room and staff started running in – I didn’t even realise what had happened

“I have PTSD as a result of this. If I hadn’t had counselling since then I would not have been able to cope now. Certain sounds, such as ambulance sirens and hospital machines, can trigger me and put me back in that room. I don’t think a lot of people realise that can happen.”

It wasn’t until Bobby was a toddler that the extent of his injury was understood. The family discovered that he would need to use a wheelchair to get around. This was a challenge for Amy and the rest of the family, as Bobby’s older brother is also a wheelchair user.

“Mobility was a challenge, especially when both of my sons were very little. If Dad was at work then how would I get them out and about?

“Even something as seemingly simple as going out to dinner at a restaurant could be frustratingly hard.”

As Bobby got older and also started to understand his injury, he also struggled with his mental wellbeing. Although he was used to disability, having attended nursery with his brother, he struggled when he entered mainstream school.

“I don’t think Bobby cared at first because he knew no different. He went to nursery that was attached to his older brother’s specialist school. When he went to primary school he realised he was the only kid who used a wheelchair there.

“That’s when we started encountering problems. He would question things, asking why he couldn’t take lessons to help him walk. One of his friends even offered to write to a popular YouTuber to see if he could get a new spinal cord.

“It’s only very recently that he has fully understood that he will not be able to walk when he gets older.”

Fortunately, Back Up was there to help Bobby and his family with their wellbeing after spinal cord injury. Our life-changing services gave his mum a supportive network, and showed Bobby what he could achieve as a wheelchair user.

Last summer, Bobby and Amy went on one of our Multi Activity Courses in the Lake District. Here, Bobby had the chance to try adventurous outdoors activities with other kids in a similar situation. Amy says that this course has helped Bobby come out of his shell, have fun, and understand how he can thrive as a young person with a spinal cord injury.

“Bobby tried everything and everything on this course – from abseiling to kayaking. He came away with a real can-do attitude!”


Importantly, this course also gave Bobby the chance to meet our volunteers – young people and adults with real experience living long-term with a spinal cord injury.

“Since coming back from the Multi Activity Course, Bobby has been happier doing more for himself, trying to be as independent as he can.

“For example, I used to pick him up and help him get in the car to save time. Now, he tries to transfer in by himself using what he learned from others on the course.”

As a charity with services for family members of people affected by spinal cord injury, Back Up was also there to help Amy. Our supportive community of family members was there to help her mental wellbeing.

“I think it’s great to meet other parents through Back Up courses and services. I’ve met people I wouldn’t have otherwise connected with, and they have given me the best advice and information for taking care of yourself and your family after spinal cord injury.”

As the only charity in the UK with dedicated services for children and young people affected by spinal cord injury, we are pleased to hear we were able to support Bobby and Amy. If you are affected by spinal cord injury and want to boost your wellbeing as well, reach out to our services team.