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16th February 2015

Blind, paralysed but ‘unbreakable’

By any measure, Mark Pollock is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary story.

Mark’s eyesight was failing by the time he entered university but it did not stop him becoming a champion rower, learning to salsa dance and meeting his beautiful wife, Simone.

He was completely blind by the age of 22, yet he still managed to become the first blind man to reach the South Pole. Styling himself as an adventurer and motivational speaker, Mark’s story inspired others to overcome adversity.

But Mark Pollock had spent his life sizing up obstacles in order to overcome them. Knowing that a long, hard road lay ahead, Mark and Simone somehow mustered the strength to take on the most daunting of tasks – finding a way to help a paralysed man to walk.

Now, four years after he lost the use of his legs, Mark and Simone are at the forefront of exploring robotics technology. They are working to apply the latest in bionics, electrical spinal stimulation, pharmaceuticals and physical therapy to give hope to those who have been told that they will never walk again.

It has, of course, been a testing time for a young couple whose best-laid plans were turned on their head by a tragic twist of fate. Yet their relationship endures and Simone, a lawyer, has herself become something of a lay expert in cutting-edge robotic technologies and spinal injuries.

As they explain in this clip, it has been a long four years but there is a sense now that their efforts will pay off in the long run – for Mark, hopefully, but for others too.

Today, Mark continues to inspire others by sharing his story, raising funds, giving TED talks, and participating in research projects. He is even the subject of a new film, appropriately titled ‘Unbreakable’.

Somewhere at the intersection of technology, pharmacology and a truly remarkable human being lies hope for a radical breakthrough for what is currently viewed as irreversible paralysis.

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