Coping With the Impact of Spinal Cord Injury on Your Career

A spinal cord injury may pose challenges when it comes to your current job situation. Learn about how Kris Aves embraced his new circumstances, found new strength, and triumphantly returned to his favorite hobby. 

Learn how Kris’ resilience and determination helped him manage a career transition

This article is based on interviews conducted by Sue Lennon. Sue is a nurse, therapist, educator, and coach with nearly three decades of experience in oncology nursing – including urology and stoma care. She values nurse-patient communication and provides truly holistic care.

A spinal cord injury (SCI) has the potential to bring about changes in your professional life. Depending on your occupation, you may need to make some adjustments to continue progressing along your current career path. Alternatively, your injury could present an opportunity to explore new directions, and embark on a fulfilling and rewarding journey. 

For Kris Aves, who lives in the UK, his SCI led to major changes in his life and career. In 2017 at age 35, Kris was left paralyzed from the waist down after he was hit by a van in the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack. He was a member of the Metropolitan Police at the time. Due to his SCI, he needed to transition out of his law enforcement role. However, he addressed this change with an upbeat attitude and a determination to regain his physical fitness. 

Retiring and getting physically fit 

Kris was a model police officer. In fact, earlier on the day of the terrorist attack, he had received a special commendation award for helping tens of thousands of British citizens participating in the Brexit marches reach their destination safely. Four years after his accident, however, he filed for medical retirement. 

It was a busy, challenging time for Kris. “I was still working for the Metropolitan Police and going through the medical retirement process, and I was also moving into a new property, getting it up and running with adaptions, and making sure it was all accessible for me,” he says. “But I made going to the gym, getting fitter, and losing weight my priority; I wanted to get myself back on track physically so I could get my house sorted, and then maybe look at a new career after that.” 

At the time, Kris wasn’t sure what his job prospects would be after leaving the police force. As an extrovert who enjoys helping people, he realized a desk job wouldn’t be a good fit for him. “I knew I didn’t want to be in front of a computer screen; it's not me,” he says. “I'm such an outgoing person that I knew I'd get a bit bored.”  

Kris decided to embrace retirement and dedicate his time to raising awareness for disability golf. 

Leveraging his fitness to return to a favorite hobby 

Before his SCI, Kris was an avid golfer. He didn’t think he’d ever play again, but after he recovered and regained his strength, he was able to resume his favorite hobby. Kris uses a ParaGolfer all-terrain wheelchair that raises him into a standing position so he can swing his club. “A couple of people in England use the ParaGolfer,” he says. “So, we get together once every six or seven weeks and play together on courses around England.” 

Kris also was fortunate to be embraced and supported by a community of golfers at his local golf club. “There's a big group of people and the camaraderie is amazing,” he says. “I can just send a text message, and the next thing I know a few people will join me to play.” 

Sports, exercise, and other forms of physical activity can help people cope when life throws them curveballs. Kris feels that golf provides an “escape” for him during challenging times. “It keeps me sane and gives me a sense of freedom,” he says. “I can get out there and ignore any stresses…except when I hit the ball into the bushes!” he jokes. 

Kris has not only returned to his favorite hobby – he has also achieved a dream come true by participating in an event featuring the world’s best golfers with disabilities. In May 2023, he teed it up in the R&A’s inaugural G4D Open

Inspiring others through his commitment to sports inclusivity and family 

In addition to supporting disability golf, Kris cherishes his role as an engaged family man. He finds immense joy spending time with his wife and children. Kris’s passion for promoting inclusivity in sports and his unwavering commitment to his loved ones inspire those around him. He continues to strive to make a positive impact – in both his professional and personal lives.  


Financial Disclosure: Kris received compensation from Hollister Incorporated for his contributions to this article.

The testimonials, statements and opinions presented are applicable to the person depicted. These testimonials are representative of that person’s experiences, but the exact results and experience will be unique and individual to each person.