AN EXTREME sports enthusiast who crashed to the ground while speed-gliding has told how surgeons have had to rebuild part of his spine using titanium rods.
Stu Kelly is still unable to walk after more than four weeks — and two spinal operations — but says he is determined to get back on his feet.
Stu, who has not been able to leave his hospital bed since the accident at Rhossili on Gower last month, said he was remaining positive.
"I'm pretty upbeat," he said.
"My target now is to try and get down the gym and build my strength."
He said the accident happened when he failed in a bid to pull off a manoeuvre and went crashing into the ground.
"I was probably doing in excess of 35-40mph when I landed feet first and then rolled," he said.
"As soon as I landed, I didn't try moving, I could feel something was badly wrong.
"I was flying with two mates. They raised the alarm and waited with me until I was airlifted."
Stu, who lives in Pontarddulais and turned 34 earlier this month, was taken to a specialist spinal unit in Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales at the Heath and underwent the first operation the following day.
"Vertebra three was smashed to bits," he said. "They put titanium rods down either side of the spine, and bars across to fuse the broken bits."
He added he had a second operation a few days later to clear bits of broken bone from his nerve canal.
"They went in from the front to get to all these pieces of bone," he said. "Clearing those bones gives me a better chance of a quicker recovery."
Last week the former Carmarthen Queen Elizabeth Cambria student was transferred to Rookwood Hospital — a specialist rehabilitation unit in Llandaff.
"I've got a weak back and legs to sort out," he said. "My left leg is pretty good and getting stronger all the time, but my right leg is limited with movement.
"I've got feeling there, it just needs to get stronger.
"It's going to be a long process. I'm going to be in here weeks, maybe months, but I'm hopeful of getting back on my feet.
"I'm having a brace to support my back, so I want to be able to sit up for long periods at a time and build up my strength."
Despite the prospect of a long road to recovery, Stu is remaining positive and setting himself targets.
After four weeks lying on his back he is eager get into a wheelchair.
"The brace will allow me to be able to use a wheelchair, so I can get myself about a bit and down to the gym — I've been stuck in a bed for four weeks," he said. "I won't rest until I'm back on my feet.
"I've got a positive head on because I know negativity isn't going to help anything."
And Stu, who works for Castell Howell in Cross Hands, says he is grateful for all the support from family and friends.
He added: "Fair play, there's a lot of paragliding mates coming up all the time; and then I've got family and the boys coming up from Carmarthen.
"I've got visitors most days, which keeps me upbeat."