Mike Howarth suffered a life changing upper limb amputation and brain injury when he was knocked from his motorbike on August 2nd 2019. He was an experienced motorcyclist and had ridden for over 30 years.

Prior to his accident, Mike had built up a successful business and was working as a business improvement and strategy deployment consultant, a job which he loves and enables him to travel the world.

He lives in Sheffield with his wife Helen and their two children.

This case study, written in July 2021, provides an account of his rehabilitation journey so far, and Mike’s hopes for the future.

Motorbike accident resulting in an amputation and brain injury

Mike was aged 49 when he was knocked from his motorbike after being struck by a car that turned right across his path. His injuries included the traumatic amputation of his left arm, a brain injury, fractured femurs, fractured ribs, fractured collarbone, fractured shoulder blade, Brachial plexus injury and a fractured spine. An off-duty police officer witnessed the accident and was able to keep Mike’s airwaves open until an ambulance arrived. Mike’s injuries were so severe that he was air lifted to Stoke Hospital where he was placed into a coma for two and half weeks. He remained in ICU for a month and a half with a tracheostomy, before being transferred to Sheffield ICU where he remained for 3 weeks.

During his stay at the Northern General, Sheffield, Mike and his wife instructed specialist solicitor Matt Brown at Irwin Mitchell who engaged the services of a case manager on their behalf, to coordinate Mike’s rehabilitation. The Case Manager put them in touch with with Dr Liz Iveson, a consultant stroke and neurorehabilitation physician.

Mike was focussed on getting back to work, but Dr Iveson recognised that he was having difficulties with fatigue, pain and insomnia which were having a detrimental effect on his rehabilitation and recovery. She recommended that Mike came to STEPS Rehabilitation for 3 weeks of intensive rehabilitation and his solicitor, Matt Brown at Irwin Mitchell secured the interim payments to make it possible.

Rehabilitation at STEPS

Mike describes STEPS as his ‘circuit breaker’, after just 3 weeks he saw massive improvements in his recovery and requested to extend his stay to 5 weeks. His rehabilitation began with making it a priority to improve his posture and manage his pain. Through the combination of therapies available at STEPS and medical cannabis Dr Iveson prescribed, his body has returned to a more natural position, his pain has reduced, and he is taking less painkillers.

“At STEPS, I was able to focus fully on my rehabilitation and concentrate on getting fit and well. In just 5 weeks, I saw amazing changes. The facilities at STEPS are fantastic, the food is great and there is an amazing range of therapies.”

His intensive rehabilitation timetable included regular aquatic therapy sessions, physiotherapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, speech and language therapy, and massage. The improvements and progress in his rehabilitation journey are testament to Mike’s determination and perseverance. He continues to visit STEPS as a day client, working on his pain management, fitness, and sleep.

The Future

Mike is due to undergo further surgery on his shoulder at the end of summer and hopes to get a working prosthetic arm that will enable him to go cycling.

As part of his ongoing rehabilitation, Mike is currently having regular Neuromotus™ sessions with Blatchford. This is an innovative therapy that allows amputees to reduce their phantom limb pain and regenerate the nerves and muscles in the residual limb. Small electrodes are placed on the surface of the residual limb which detect muscle signals controlled by the brain. This allows the amputee to take control of a virtual limb on the computer screen and enables them to relearn movements. Mike and other amputees at STEPS see a huge benefit from having this innovative technology at STEPS and can even have the therapy in their own home.

“There is a real sense of community at STEPS. You are joining people in similar circumstances to you, and you are all here to get better and regain some semblance of their life before your accident or illness. There is a collaborative approach to everyone’s rehabilitation, with clients encouraging one another to get the very best results. At dinner time, we can talk and share our experiences and it helps to know you are not alone – we all have the drive to improve.

At first, I was really sceptical about coming to STEPS, but I quickly felt at home. All the staff and the therapies at STEPS are client centred and focussed on your own individual goals. I genuinely believe that those who need intensive rehabilitation should come to STEPS, the benefits are so worth it.”

His video case study can be viewed here.