Rob Camm, a 21-year-old student at the University of Bristol in the UK, became the world’s first quadriplegic to compete in the grueling 12-mile Tough Mudder course. The challenge has been dubbed “probably the toughest event on the planet.”
Camm was paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident two years ago. He participated in the Tough Mudder in an Extreme X8 electric off-road wheelchair set on top of a quad bike. Camm controls the wheelchair with his chin. The wheelchair can reach a speed of 10 kilometers per hour. He can even clear tree branches and tow his father’s 4×4 with it.
Camm was unable to take on some of the obstacles, such as monkey bars, mud pits, high walls, and narrow tunnels, but he was able to navigate some difficult terrain in his wheelchair. He said that many people believed he should not participate in such a grueling competition, but he wanted to prove them wrong.
Camm is a former rugby player. He had just played his last rugby game for the Dursley RFC team when the accident happened in September 2013. He was supposed to start pre-season rugby training at York University in a matter of days. Camm was paralyzed from the neck down and in intensive care for 96 days.
He wanted to do a Tough Mudder before the accident and still wanted to participate after his injury. Camm used to participate in many physical challenges. He doesn’t do as many anymore, so he was excited to be able to participate in the Tough Mudder.
Camm participated with a team of friends and family. The challenge raised money for SpecialEffect, a charity that provided technology that helped him adjust to life after his accident.
This April he began working with Rex Bionics in the UK and Rome to test their exoskeleton, nicknamed Rex, which was provided by SpecialEffect. A cap placed on his head is covered with 79 electrodes attached to his skull that can read brain signals and help him move. In July, he became the first quadriplegic in the world who uses a ventilator to learn to walk again with a robotic exoskeleton that is controlled by his thoughts.
Rob Camm has displayed extraordinary determination to continue to challenge himself in spite of his injury. His courage and perseverance make him a role model for people with and without disabilities. We hope he will continue to participate in other challenges with his wheelchair and exoskeleton.