One Superstar of a Guy
One Superstar of a Guy
By Eve Graves
Editor’s Note: Reading Eve’s story that follows for the first time, I couldn’t help feeling that the paralyzing injuries suffered by Brok Hansmeyer and his hopes to return to self-propelled mobility were lines that likely would not connect. Since then, Brok Hansmeyer, as well as Eve, continued to communicate with me. They reported progress and forwarded new videos. I cannot emphasize enough the error of my initial feelings. More so, I encourage you to keep following Brok’s journey, as he and Eve provide more information. For now, I am posting the original story that appears in the July print edition of Silent Sports magazine. Also, the videos that have followed since Eve’s story appeared in my email inbox prove just how much Brok is One Superstar of a Guy.
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In August 2019, Brok Hansmeyer, then 38, husband to Amanda, father of three, misjudged a jump on his bike while riding a trail at Mission Creek in Duluth. His first time on this particular route resulted in paralysis from the chest down.
Hansmeyer grew up in Esko, Minnesota, where he participated in cross-country running, skiing, track, and basketball. Attending the University of Minnesota Duluth, he ran and worked out on his own prior to graduating in 2004. He continued to enjoy biking, kayaking, and running, including biking to Grand Marais solo, twice to Thunder Bay, five years on mountain bike trails, and one race. Until August 2019, he had his share of crashes, but they only resulted in minor scrapes and bruises.
The Fateful Unknown
Hansmeyer said, “I had biked the main loop at Mission Creek before. But I decided to go on some of the trails I had never been on before [solo] to explore, which is part of the fun of mountain biking.” He said the drop-off snuck up on him. Unable to stop or flow with it naturally, he believes hitting the brakes as a split-second decision shaped his fate.
Far from anyone, knowing this crash went well beyond bumps and bruises, Hansmeyer managed to slide his phone out and call 911. A biker arrived at the trailhead when the EMS did, and pedaled ahead to Brok. Using an old fire road, EMS got closer to Brok. However, the crew had to walk in on the hilly trails.
“I landed on my head,” Hansmeyer said, “and my hundred-dollar helmet saved my life according to my neurosurgeon. It has a big dent in it. The bike escaped with a few scrapes.”
Damages and Treatment
Once at the hospital, doctors determined Hansmeyer had C1 and C7 vertebrae breaks in his neck. Surgeons operated on August 10th, again on August 11th, on each damaged disc. Paralyzed from the chest down, he learned from the neurosurgeon that hope existed as he had some feeling below the injury, despite not being able to move. During his ICU stint, his heart stopped for almost 60 seconds.
Hansmeyer began PT and OT in the hospital. Less than a month later, he was flown to Craig Hospital in Denver for three months to complete intensive rehab. Therapists kept him busy with PT, OT, dry-needling, massage, acupuncture, and more. I introduced him to the Bio Electro Magnetic Energy Regulation mat, and his legs began moving.
During his brief trip to Duluth, I helped the determined Hansmeyer get on the Lightspeed Lift, where moved on a treadmill. He next transferred to his in-laws in Texas so he could live in a one-level home in warmer weather, and receive assistance for his two young children and new baby. Since then, he has been using an ARP Wave (Accelerated Recovery Performance using low-level electrical pulses), and training with neuro rehab.
Post-Injury Accomplishments and Perspectives
Superstar! That’s what medical professionals call the hard-working Hansmeyer, who now walks using arm crutches. When I asked if he has attempted biking yet, Hansmeyer said, “I have pedaled a lot with FES [Functional Electrical Stimulation] bikes at Craig Hospital, and a stationary bike while in my wheelchair.”
[Editor’s Note: The following video shows Brok taking first steps with overhead harness. All videos below appear with permission of Ryan Bachik, Brok’s trainer.]
He only knows for sure that he won’t be able to turn his neck because of the hardware installed during surgery. In medical terms, he’s defined technically as a quadriplegic since he doesn’t have full use of his right hand.
As to his post-crash perspective, Hansmeyer said, “Time with people I love is more important than work. Possessions are just things.” Reflecting on the accident, he added, “I would have biked with a friend, and watched videos or read about the trails before I went on them, or biked slower on trails I had not biked on before.”
Friends and family have been an amazing support team for the Hansmeyer family. Wife Amanda said, “This injury turned our lives upside down, and stripped Brok in the short term of his independence, yet Brok is still full of hope, and has embraced his recovery with everything in him. He is the most hard-working, positive, hopeful and driven person I know. Although this has been such a hard road, Brok continues to persevere, and have faith that God is in control. I am so impressed with his positive outlook despite how grueling life is, and despite the fact that we don’t know how much healing he will have in the long term, or how that will affect our future. I’m so proud of him, and how he’s handled this trial. His true character has shown through every step of the way, and it’s pure gold.”
[Editor’s Note: Brok progressing to walking without harness.]
Two GoFundMe pages were set up, and the family was selected for a Christmas donation. “Hansmeyer Strong” shirts were available for purchase, and more. He hopes future accomplishments will include walking, hiking, running, biking, and traveling the world.
No one should count out this Superstar.
[Editor’s Note: More videos below showing the once-paralyzed Brok Hansmeyer has moved on to — (1) Cycling; (2) Weighted squats.]