Brad Tasker (left) credits Dr. Sean Bristol for saving his right hand after a motorcycle accident.

Drumming was a vital part of Brad Tasker’s everyday life playing in the Victoria music circuit. A motorbike accident resulted in Brad not knowing how he was going to continue playing the instrument.

Seven years ago, Brad Tasker was riding his motorcycle to his Victoria home when a distracted driver in a Toyota RAV4 suddenly cut in front of him. He hit the front side of the vehicle, sending him flying over the hood onto the hard asphalt. Brad, who was 20 years old at the time, suffered many broken bones and tissue damage, including his jaw, right kneecap, both wrists and right femur. The most severe injury being a brachial plexus injury.

Brad never questioned if he was going to drum again, he just had to figure out how.

After spending 35 days in the hospital total, first at Victoria General Hospital and then at Royal Jubilee Hospital, Brad was referred to Dr. Sean Bristol for his injury to his right brachial plexus and sent to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).

“I had no sensation in my arm,” he explains. “I mean, my brain was trying to send messages to my arm but it wouldn’t do anything.”

The brachial plexus is the complex network of nerves that run from the neck all the way down through the shoulder, arm and hand. It was this complex system that Dr. Bristol and his team had to repair and they did it quite successfully. After a series of nerve grafts, nerve transplants and tendon transfers, the 27-year-old’s shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and fingers have regained significantly more function than what had been predicted, given the severity of the injury.

“He was certainly banged and bruised up when he came in for our help. Brad’s injury was pretty severe,” says Dr. Bristol. “When I first saw Brad with his parents, he couldn’t move his arm at all – he couldn’t drum let alone bring his hand up to his mouth.”

Thanks to Dr. Bristol’s work and the VGH team, Brad who is now a radio producer, can get back behind the drum kit.

“I’m doing really well now, all things considered,” he says. “I can drum with two arms – a bit differently and not as fast – but I can still play. For the first two years, I modified my drum kit to play with a foot snare and one arm. Now, I use both arms but I play a lot of modified, simplified beats and work on getting my left hand and right foot as fast as possible to try and make up for what my right hand can’t do.”

And Brad also can kickbox and the same idea applies as his drumming – a lot of modified combos using both southpaw and orthodox stances to work around loss of power and range in his right arm.

“I do pretty much anything – I like to just get out there and be part of things, to be in the mix,” he says. “I can do most things that anyone else does, but again in a modified and more conscious and deliberate way. I’ve got good at figuring out work-arounds. But I’m very grateful. Because of Dr. Bristol, I have been able to do things like hold my wife’s hand.”

“Dr. Bristol is the sole reason I had the opportunity to regain some movement and control back in my arm,” he adds. “I can’t thank him enough.”

Before the accident, Brad was right-handed. Now, he is left-handed.

“It wasn’t hard to change because I was in a position where I didn’t have a choice – I couldn’t escape the reality of not using my right hand so I made it happen.”

As his doctor, Dr. Bristol says it’s very gratifying to see his patient doing so well now.

“It’s an incredible outcome and a lot of it has to do with Brad’s positive attitude and hard work,” says Dr. Bristol. “He’s lucky to be using his arm this well again.”

So, is he still riding a motorcycle?

“No never,” he says frankly. “After what happened to me I’d be an idiot to try my luck. Not worth it, there are plenty of other extreme things I can do to get the same sensation of exhilaration and calm … lots of other things I can do to feel free in this life without getting killed.”