Brave Ben’s latest boost in recovery bid

Judith Scholefield and Dr Damian Tolan at Spire Leeds Hospital with Ben Parkinson.
Judith Scholefield and Dr Damian Tolan at Spire Leeds Hospital with Ben Parkinson.
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Leeds clinicians have issued Britain’s most injured surviving serviceman, Ben Parkinson, yet another health boost in his recovery bid.

The 30-year-old former paratrooper, from Doncaster, is on a long rehabilitative journey after the Land Rover he was travelling in hit a Taliban mine in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, eight years ago.

The explosion broke his back in three places and punctured his lungs.

Every single rib was broken, his spleen was ruptured and his cheek, nose and jaw were smashed.

Debilitating brain injuries robbed him of his speech after he spent four months in a coma, during which surgeons removed both of his legs below the knees.

But the defiant ex-serviceman has amazed medical professionals with his progress in learning to walk and developing his speech.

And while the brain injuries Ben suffered affected both his speech and swallowing abilities, he has rallied and progressed from liquidised to solid foods although his family had concerns he could be in danger of choking or aspirating food.

Experts at Spire Leeds Hospital, in Roundhay, have given him videofluoroscopy treatment, which assesses swallowing under x-ray. It showed that despite the trauma, his swallowing action is safe.

“It’s such a relief and very reassuring,” Diane Dernie, Ben’s mum and full-time carer, said.

“When Ben was injured doctors expected he might not be able to eat solid foods again, yet he was determined and gradually progressed from liquidised food to eating solid foods with care, although he still experiences some difficulties when drinking.

“The assessment provided us with evidence showing that Ben is not in danger.”

Judith Scholefield, specialist neurospeech and language specialist who has worked with Ben’s speech improvement, performed the procedure with consultant radiologist Dr Damian Tolan.

She said: “Ben is the most determined and motivated person.”