Paralysed DJ relishing life on the airwaves with hit show
AFTER more than 10 years trapped inside his own body and suffering in silence, Exeter's Bram Harrison has finally found his voice.
The 34-year-old, who also goes by the name of DJ Eye Tech, lives with locked-in syndrome that leaves him unable to walk or talk and he can only communicate with his eyes.
A bicycle accident at the age of 20 left him paralysed except for this pupil movement.
Yet it is through this that he has discovered his unique lifeline – that of a radio DJ presenting a show on Phonic FM.
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He has so far produced 14 eye-life radio shows since the first broadcast in July 2009, and it has gone on to become the most popular on the station.
Put together with the help of Tony Walker and Philip Robinson, it is back next month after a lengthy break.
The next show will hit the airwaves on Saturday, February 23, between 8pm and 10pm.
And speaking to the Echo via email, he said the show had changed his life.
He said: "The first show was an absolutely huge success. It is the station's number one and, with more experience, each show just gets better and better.
"It means a lot to know people are out there all over the world listening to what I have got to say. The highlight for me has been receiving emails from people, telling me of their enthusiasm for what I am doing. It has really allowed my voice to be heard and gives me a really strong sense of purpose.
"Some people, when they first meet me, pity me and look down on me as being some sort of useless waste of space. But they quickly change their mind when they learn I present my own two-hour long radio show.
"It has had an absolutely awesome impact on my life."
He records the show by using a computer with eye-tracking software to type words that the computer then reads out.
By only moving his eyes he developed a way of talking, spelling out letters one by one, with a Perspex communication aid.
"Before I got my eye-controlled speaking computer and started producing the shows my life was very dull," he added. "Now there are not enough hours in the day. My advice to anyone in a similar position as me is just to make the most of what you've got. Your options may be limited but that is no reason to give up.
"I always believed I was far too disabled to be helped but I am proof that if it is in there, it will be found. Just hang on in there. Also surround yourself with great people and great things will happen."
Although his brain damage only affects movement of his muscles it means he cannot walk, eat or speak.
The show had been broadcast every two months but Bram has recently had a long break due to moving out of the rehab unit where he has been for the past 15 years.
"I have not only changed my location but I now have a completely new care team, which all needed to be trained in my care and specifically in using my face-to-face communication board," he added.
"This is different from the speaking computer I use to present my eye-life radio shows with."
He said that although the show is not for profit he was looking for sponsorship and support to help cover the advertising costs.
Phonic FM was launched in 2008 and has a five-year licence to broadcast on 106.8 FM within a 5km radius of Exeter.
For more information, visit www.eyelife.org.