Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Paralysed Kiwi wakeboarder moves limbs

Brad Smeele, a former top Kiwi wakeboarder paralysed in a water accident nearly two years ago, is celebrating a milestone -- using his limbs thanks to cutting-edge technology.

The former world junior champion and top professional wakeboarder was left a quadriplegic after shattering his C4 vertebrae in a failed landing at a Florida lake in 2014.

He was filming a difficult double rotation ramp-to-ramp jump he had pioneered.

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Now, 20 months after the accident, Mr Smeele has posted two new videos on social media showing the latest developments in his bid to walk again.

Both show the former athlete using the RT300 exercycle to teach his weak, paralysed arms and legs how to move.

The adjustable exercise therapy machine is attached to his limbs and uses electrical stimulation and a motor to move limbs in a peddling action.


The electrical currents jolt muscles in lifeless limbs to contract in the correct order, creating assisted movement.

It has buoyed the spirits of the former champion sportsman who is holding out hope for a miracle.

"As you might be able to tell, I'm pretty happy to be using the arm cycle on my new RT300 bike. It uses electrical stimulation and a motor to assist with the movement ... Watch this space for major gains, one day I'll be able to do this using my own strength," he wrote.

In a video posted to Instagram last month he showed himself using the therapy machine to make his legs peddle the bike.

The 28-year-old described how pleased he was to have the machine at his North Shore home.

"Today I had my first session, since leaving Shepherd Center, on the RT300, it's an exercycle that uses electrical stimulation to make my legs peddle the bike. I'm stoked to have my one arriving soon to use at home."

Mr Smeele wrote about how he had to fight to get the machine funded but was very excited to get it, seeing it as a vital tool in getting mobile again.

His latest post has been viewed by more than 25,000 people within a day. Many supporters have commented with admiration at his courage and determination.

Wrote Brooke 'Alfie' Butler: "This is incredible Brad! After a long day, this has really put a huge smile on my face, just like it has you! Keep going champ!"

Extreme kiteboarder Ruben Lenten posted: "Rocking it!! Wayyy brother."

- NZ Herald

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