Injured Tweed-Coolangatta Barbarians player Phil Heath has been moved to the Princess Alexandra Hospital spinal unit in Brisbane.
Injured Tweed-Coolangatta Barbarians player Phil Heath has been moved to the Princess Alexandra Hospital spinal unit in Brisbane. Tweed Daily News

Long recovery for injured Baa Baa

LYING in Brisbane's Princess Alexandra hospital spinal unit has given injured player Phil Heath a new perspective on his injury.

While Phil remains bed-ridden and has minimal movement in his arms and legs, he is considered one of the lucky ones in the ward.

Doctors are hopeful the 27-year-old will fully recover from the spinal injury he suffered more than a fortnight ago playing for the “Baa Baas”.

Mr Heath was moved to Brisbane from the Gold Coast Hospital on Thursday afternoon and is looking forward to today, when his rehabilitation is set to begin in earnest and continue for up to eight months.

He spoke to the Tweed Daily News from hospital yesterday with the help of his girlfriend, Nicole Maloney, who held the phone to his ear.

“It is going alright so far. I can move my legs to move me around in a wheelchair, but my hands and arms have a bit of improvement to go,” Mr Heath said.

“At the moment the doctors are still waiting for the swelling to go down, I've still got to go in for another scan so they can work out a bit of a plan to get me sorted.

“They are all pretty hopeful. I can move, just not too well; I have no strength or range of movement.

“They all seem hopeful that things are going to get better.”

The time period for reha- bilitation is six to nine months, with a minimum turnaround of three months.

Mr Heath's injury was caused when he mistimed a tackle and copped a knee to the head, which extended his neck or back.

He remained conscious and can remember lying there unable to move.

“It was very scary, the most scared I have ever been,” Phil said.

His mother Julie, who flew over from New Zealand following the injury, and Miss Maloney are staying at a hotel across the road from the hospital.

Being an active kind of guy, Mr Heath said it has been a challenge being unable to move for a fortnight, and there is an element of boredom.

The mental health unit is right next to the spinal unit: “I think I will say, chuck me in there once I finish in here,” he joked.

In the first week after the injury, the Barbarians raised $600 at their home game against Casino and raised a further $400 on Saturday, including a $250 donation from opponents Lennox Head.

“Big thanks to everyone who has helped me so far along the way; I really appreciate it all,” Mr Heath said. And thanks to all the staff at the Gold Coast Hospital, they were really good.”



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