I first met Nikhil Gupta at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Delhi. He has quadriplegia and more importantly is one of the most active peer-trainers whom a fellow SCI can look up to. It was probably my 3rd month at the rehabilitation centre and I saw a swarm of chirpy quadriplegics roll into the physiotherapy hall. While I was struggling with accepting my new way of life and just learning to exercise the limited body parts I was able to control – this group felt like an epitome of acceptance and enjoying life to the fullest. Their actions made me feel like moving on after a life changing injury is actually possible.I hope this article about Nikhil inspires fellow SCIs.
Nikhil Gupta’s #LifeBeyondSCI
Nikhil playing wheelchair rugby
I was born in Aligarh, U.P. and now we are settled in Ghaziabad, UP. I stay with my Mom, Dad, Elder Brother, Sister-in-Law and wife. I am an ardent sports lover. Before my accident I had pursued my passion for swimming, bike rides and outing with friends. I did my B.Tech. from IET Lucknow and got placed in Wipro Hyderabad as Software Engineer. Currently I am working with Oracle Software as Project Leader. I am also the Captain of the Wheelchair Rugby Team of India.
On March 8, 2008 I went out for a party with my friends. It was in a Resort in the outskirts of Bengaluru. It was a late evening party and after some time we all decided to hit the pool and go swimming. That day I don’t know why initially I was a bit reluctant to swim but then I dived and much to my dismay, the pool was shallow and I had a head-on-collision with the floor. My neck broke instantly, I lost control over my body and was unconscious till the time my friend saw me and took me out from the swimming pool. I had unbearable pain in my neck so my friends took me to Apollo hospital where I got operated for SCI. In this accident I broke my C5-C6-C7 vertebrae and found out that my body is now paralysed chest down.
His car with modified hand controls
After the operation I started my physiotherapy in Apollo Bengaluru. I stayed there for around a month, and later I shifted to ISIC, Vasant kunj, Delhi for my rehabilitation. In ISIC I saw many other patients like me and finally realised how serious this injury is. In ISIC I was introduced to wheelchair Rugby also I came to know about different aids that a SCI can use. I even got wheelchair skills training there. After 1.5 months of rehab in ISIC, I came back to my home and started physiotherapy at home.
Receiving award for imparting rehabilitation skills
Life beyond spinal cord injury
Initially it was really tough to digest the fact that I will not be able to walk again and use my hands properly. The worst thing was that I was completely dependent on others for even my daily and morning chores. This thing with no control on my Bowel and bladder was driving me crazy. I was getting depressed with no signs of recovery and unprofessional behaviour of attendants. My workplace Oracle supported me by allowing me to work from home. I then met a fellow Quadriplegic who was very independent so I realised even I can be independent on a wheelchair. Then I started meeting other wheelchair users and we used to discuss how we are managing day to day activities. I used to play Wheelchair Rugby and that has strengthened me mentally and physically. After 4 years of my injury I was independent enough to manage my life on a wheelchair and we took this idea forward and trained other wheelchair users for independent life on wheelchairs. Now I represent India in wheelchair Rugby and have participated in 3 International Tournaments. I even won Mr Wheelchair India Title in 2015.
Nikhil with his wife at their wedding
I love to travel and explore new places. It is really tough to visit places on a wheelchair. Thankfully I live in NCR so we have wheelchair accessible Malls, metros and markets and I started exploring them with my wheelchair gang. Now I drive a hand control modified, automatic car and feel more comfortable and confident in going out. I have travelled to Khajjiar, Pathankot, Jaipur, Agra, Mathura and many other places by driving my car. I have travelled by flight and train too, though it is tough to manage for a wheelchair user if you travel by train. I am looking forward to exploring and looking up details on more wheelchair accessible places in India.
Message for people who are newly injured
Communication, right information and good rehabilitation is the key to tackle SCI. Just believe in yourself, open up about your issues and discuss it with Peers. We can live a normal life in a wheelchair, so start focusing on the things that you can do and work on improving your strengths. Live for what tomorrow has to offer and not what yesterday has taken away.