Bruno Hansen Case study
“Son….you’re paralyzed and you’ll never walk again”
Cyclone first met Bruno back in 1999 when as a patient at Odstock spinal injuries unit. His passion for life was obvious right from the start of the new adventure he was to embark upon, however it like most did have its darker times.
On December 4th, 1998 Bruno Hansen’s life changed completely. Working as a captain on surf charter vessel, Hansen had just finished the Sumatra surf season. He flew back to South Africa to meet the owner of the boat, went out partying, then drove to the airport. An attempted carjacking resulted in an accident and Hansen lost the use of his legs forever.
“Son, I shoot from the hip,” his doctor told him when he woke up in the hospital. “You’re paralyzed and you’ll never walk again.”
What makes Hansen’s story particularly jarring is what his life was like before the accident. An avid spearfisherman and surfer, the South African crafted a life for himself that nearly every surfer yearned for. He grew up playing outside and kept right on doing it as an adult. When he lost the use of his legs, he felt as though he’d lost his life–an understandable sentiment.
Hansen found himself in a very dark place. Deciding that life wasn’t worth living, he tried to drown himself. “Instead of sinking, Bruno was carried to the shore by a wave that he describes as ‘a little foamy, probably 20cm high,’” wrote Jamie Currie. “In other words, a wave which, in accordance with basic laws of physics, had no right to carry him anywhere. Bruno says that he was ‘confused’ as to what was happening but that ‘something rebooted’ in his mind and gave him the strength to face up to his new life as a paraplegic.”
He didn’t just face up to his new life, though. Bruno Hansen charged at it like a bull. Over the course of the next two decades, he learned to surf again. He started diving again. He sailed from Mozambique to Thailand, and he won a world championship at the World Adaptive Surfing Championships. As of 2016, he was sailing from Seattle to Alaska, a journey of nearly 800 miles, with two other paraplegics. Bruno Hansen embraced life, and he did it with a fervency few people can summon.
His injury, as devastating as it was, isn’t something he wants to change. “If God Himself jumped down in front of me right now,” he said for a documentary called Human, “and said to me, ‘Bruno, I’ll give you back your legs but I’ll take away all that you’ve learned in the last 13 years.’ I’d tell God, ‘keep your legs
Take some time to watch the short clip showing just how Bruno lives his life now, travelling the seas and becoming one of the worlds greatest adaptive surfers.