Drunk driver destroyed family second with son, 1, dead and girl, 5, paralyzed


This past June, life couldn’t have been more perfect for the Clark family.

Father Vincent and mother Lee were buying their first family home, their daughter Abby was looking forward to an upcoming holiday and son Oliver was busy practicing his favorite word ‘tractor’.

Then, on July 2, 2021, everything collapsed. They were driving to a friend’s house for dinner when a drunk driver hit their car.

One-year-old Oliver was killed and Abby was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Vincent, who also nearly died, fractured bones in his feet, legs, back and neck and suffered a brain injury.

Lee, 38, fractured multiple bones and her pelvis, as well as a ruptured spleen.

The other driver was also killed.

Mother Lee and daughter Abby

The rest of the family was hospitalized for months

Now, as the first anniversary approaches, Vincent says a groundbreaking new rehabilitation program at Gatwick is giving the family hope that five-year-old Abby can walk again.

Vincent, 41, originally from Golders Green, north-west London, was working as a sales manager for a software company in Israel at the time of the crash.

“It was a ride we’d taken many times before, but our whole life was shattered in a matter of seconds,” says Vincent.

“The driver of the other car was drunk.

“I stopped by the hospital days later to hear my wife’s mother tell me Oliver was dead. It was like a nightmare, a crazy dream.”

Oliver’s funeral was held the day after the crash, according to Jewish tradition, but the three surviving family members remained hospitalized for months, and relatives slept at Abby’s side while her parents recovered.

“Abby has an incomplete spinal cord injury and we’re told it’s unlikely she’ll ever walk again,” says Vincent.

“But she’s amazing. It was so inspiring. She never stopped playing games, smiling, being happy.

“She started physical therapy, but the approach was to adapt to the injuries rather than seeing them as something that could be changed.”

Frustrated, the Clarks investigated treatment options and discovered Neurokinex, which has centers in Hemel Hempstead, Bristol and Crawley near Gatwick Airport.

“They offer activity-based neurorehabilitation, which involves constant movement combined with electrical stimulation, which really made sense to me,” says Vincent.

Neurokinex, working under the motto ‘Redefining Possible’, won Best Neurological Rehabilitation at the 2021 Social Care Awards.

Five-year-old Abby was injured in the accident



Abby hopes to be able to walk again

His work is unique in Europe, using methods that target the body below the injury site and exercises where possible without the patient’s wheelchair.

Wide Pulse Stimulation is used to promote communication between the brain and the injured area.

After raising £45,000 via crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, Abby began her rehab in central Gatwick in January.

“We were concerned that the first month would be a write-off as Abby is shy,” says Vincent.

“But within the first hour she was laughing. They have a kids only program, so every activity is based on having fun. There are always a couple of coaches and one is the designated entertainer.”

Abby exercised four hours a day, five days a week, using a movement training device unique in Europe that helps patients relearn stepping patterns on a treadmill.

“She would stand in a harness on a treadmill while people moved their legs one at a time, hoping that constant movement could regrow nerves and regenerate the spine,” says Vincent. “It can and will happen.”

Abby’s core strength has improved while she has regained some sensation lower in her body.

Marilla Cameron, Neurorehabilitation Trainer and Assistant Manager at Neurokinex Gatwick explains: “When Abby started, she needed someone to hold her ribs, hips and knees so she could sit or stand. After 60 intense sessions, all we have to do is support them on their knees.

“She has gained full trunk control which increases her independence and is exciting for the future.”

Abby has recovered enough to go back to school, her strength has improved and she can sit up and move around a bit on her own at home without a wheelchair, using her core strength to go up and down stairs.

“She was really unstable at first,” says Vincent. “If you don’t have your hip muscles under control, how do you sit down? Now she can sit almost normally. Spinal cord injuries can heal from within, it’s not uncommon – so it keeps the body in peak condition, moves those muscles, moves those limbs to aid in possible nerve and spinal regeneration.”

But the family is realistic about the future.

“It’s a long-term process,” says Vincent. “Part of this therapy is that nothing is certain. But Abby is young and we want to know that we’re doing everything we can.”

So Vincent and Lee are raising funds again with the aim of returning to the center in August. They are renovating a new house and want to build a studio there where they can use a similar electrical muscle stimulator so Abby can continue her physical therapy at home.

But first, the Clarks must confront the one-year anniversary of Oliver’s death.

“We have to go through this,” says Vincent.

“We have Abby and she is the focus now. There are times when I look back on the previous life and know whatever happens, it will never be the same again.

“But we have to build something hopeful for Abby, hopeful for us, and hopeful for the future children we might have.”

click here to donate to the fundraiser and Find out more about Neurokinex here

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