Paralysed man becomes first tetraplegic in world to complete Tough Mudder - using just his chin to operate wheelchair

Rob Camm used wheelchair set on top of quad bike

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The Independent Online

A student has become the first tetraplegic in the world to take part in a Tough Mudder challenge - completing the 12-mile course on a wheelchair he controls with his chin.

Rob Camm, 21, was left paralysed from the neck down and reliant on a ventilator following a car crash in September 2013, a week before he was due to start university.

The keen rugby player, who suffered a C3 spinal injury in the crash, spent 96 days in intensive care before being transferred to a specialist spinal unit in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

He is now living with his family in Breadstone, Gloucestershire, and has just passed his first year of studying politics and philosophy at the University of Bristol with a 2.1.

Mr Camm, alongside a team of family and friends, braved torrential rain as he tackled the Tough Mudder in Cirencester Park, Gloucestershire.

He used his Extreme X8 wheelchair to pull tree branches and even tow his father's car.

Mr Camm has raised almost £5,000 for SpecialEffect, a charity which provided him with an eye gaze computer - controlled by blinking and eye movement - when he was in hospital.

John Fidoe, vice president of Tough Mudder, who accompanied Mr Camm on the course, described him as inspirational.

"We were thrilled to have Rob join us this past weekend at Tough Mudder South West and watch him become the first tetraplegic in the world to complete a Tough Mudder course," Mr Fidoe said.

"His strength, determination and courage have inspired all of us at Tough Mudder and Mudders around the world."

Speaking before the event, Mr Camm said: "I wanted to do a Tough Mudder before the accident and still want to do it now.

Rob Camm enters the mud with his teamates

"I've got a wheelchair that's capable of doing it, so I thought 'why not?' It's a wheelchair set on top of a quad bike and I've not found anything that can stop it, yet."

Mr Camm was not able to tackle all the obstacles on the course but navigated bumpy and muddy terrains in testing weather.

He was joined by his father Ian Camm, cousin Simon Camm, Tomos Wyn-Jones, Rob Telford, Ian Telford, Liam Kearns, Chris Wright, Simon James and Helen James.

The team hope the funds they raise from the event will help provide technology to more disabled people.

After completing the challenge, Mr Camm will return to Bristol University to begin his second year of his course.

"I'm enjoying my studies a lot," he added.

"The university has been fantastic and my lecturers have been really supportive. It's good getting my life back to some extent."

A few weeks ago, Mr Camm visited the Robotics Science and Systems Conference in Rome, where he was able to walk thanks to an electronic robotic exoskeleton.

The wearable robot, called Rex, uses 79 electrodes attached to his skull which read signals in his brain and convert them to movement.

"We got in touch with the developers initially as we thought the robot could help with physiotherapy as it's good for my body to keep moving in a natural way," he said.

"It's now developed into this amazing skeleton which I can control with my mind.

"To see my toes and feet move forwards was pretty incredible. For the past two years, I haven't seen that really, so it's very unusual and it's quite enjoyable to see your body moving in that way.

"I've said I'm happy to be their test pilot, so we will see what happens in the future."

To sponsor Mr Camm and his team, visit their JustGiving page at