Catapulted into the ground while racing a horse named Solway Dandy in Perth on July 4, 2013, jockey Brian Toomey suffered a catastrophic brain injury in the handicap hurdle.
The paramedics said I was dead for six seconds. But that was just the start. After they got me back, the doctors gave me a 3% cent chance of survival. After I pulled through that period, I couldn’t open my eyes and was paralysed. After that, I was paralysed down the left-hand side because it was the right side of my brain that got injured. I still didn’t know my family, I didn’t even know who I was.
The impact of Brian's injury
Brian was given a 3% chance of survival due to the extent of his injuries. As paramedics rushed to help him, he died for seven seconds before being revived.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors in Dundee carried out emergency brain surgery and he was then in a coma. Nobody expected him to survive, let alone get back on a horse.
Brian spent 157 days in hospital where he began his recovery battling memory loss as well as physical problems.
Being a jockey is my passion, it was my goal to get back. That really helped me, because it was all I wanted to do. I knew I had to be near enough 100% to enable me to even apply and try and get back, so that’s what I did.
It was working with the Injured Jockeys Fund that meant that Brian came into contact with our Occupational Therapists, Rachel Charles and Susannah Giles. He says, “I hadn’t a clue what occupational therapists did before the accident. I was going through a hard time. I didn’t really realise how much it was helping me.”
Rachel and Susannah worked with Brian and his multi-disciplinary team at Jack Berry House focused on structure and routine and miraculously it wasn’t long before Brian got back on a horse, and he made his racing comeback in July 2015.
It had never been done before. I’ve been told it’s apparently the biggest professional sporting comeback in the world because I actually died for seven seconds, and also, don’t forget, first they thought I would die and then they thought if I lived, I would never be able to walk or talk again… never mind be a professional jockey.