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[Video] Ice hockey player Tobias' new perspective on life after SCI

Rikke Damkjær Moen - Physiotherapist and Medical Manager
Rikke Damkjær Moen - Physiotherapist and Medical Manager
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man in wheelchair looking to his side

A severe accident during a hockey game resulted in 35-year-old Tobias breaking his neck and becoming paralysed from the armpits down. Innowalk and other activities are important daily measures to ensure optimal physical and mental functioning.

Tobias Richloow Forsberg 

Tobias is an active and driven 35-year-old man. He currently lives in Stockholm with his wife Filippa but is originally from Piteå in Norrland, Sweden. For many, Tobias Forsberg, known as "Tobbe," is a dedicated and successful ice hockey player. Until Boxing Day 2018, he played for Leksands IF and had been part of the team's amazing journey to Sweden's top ice hockey league (SHL). At Leksands IF, Tobias had found his home, totalling 8 seasons with the club before his hockey career came to an abrupt end. Ice hockey has always been an important part of his life where he has made many friendships as well as lifelong experiences and memories. 

The accident that changed his life 

On Boxing Day 2018, Leksands IF played at home in front of a enthusiastic audience where the atmosphere in the stands was great. Within a few seconds, a close combat situation ended Tobias' hockey career. Tobias himself says that the actual situation he found himself in during the game was not unusual for an ice hockey player. He and his opponent chased the puck, but in close combat, they accidentally got entangled. Tobias lost his balance and crashed head-first into the dasher board. What was a normal situation had suddenly become a serious accident that changed Tobias' life forever. 

The collision caused Tobias to break the 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae and damage his spinal cord. He was conscious the entire time and describes how he could feel the cold ice on his cheek, but unable to feel the rest of his body. 

"Then and there, when I was lying on the ice, I could only feel my head. The rest of my body was paralysed," Tobias Forsberg. 

What is a spinal cord injury? 

The spinal cord acts as a connection between the brain and the body. In case of damage to the spinal cord, nerve impulses are either completely or partially blocked. A spinal cord injury can occur due to a traumatic event, such as an accident, or a non-traumatic event, such as congenital spinal bifida. The spinal cord is well protected in a canal inside the spine, and often, the spinal cord remains intact after a traumatic event, but the damage occurs as a consequence of the compression of the spinal cord. 

Consequences of an injury
The extent of injury is usually described as either a complete spinal cord injury or an incomplete spinal cord injury. 

A complete spinal cord injury – means a total loss of voluntary movement and sensation below the level of injury. 

An incomplete spinal cord injury – means that some degree of sensation and motor ability is preserved below the level of injury.

Time after the accident 

Tobias was cared for in the intensive care unit and underwent several surgeries. Once the situation stabilised, a long, tough rehabilitation awaited. The severe accident had made Tobias dependent on help, and he now had to learn to live life in a new way. All daily tasks, such as eating and dressing, had to be relearned. There have been many setbacks and significant challenges. 

One of the biggest challenges Tobias experiences is the feeling of being deprived of his independence and always being dependent on assistance. However, he also finds that it is a driving force that he wants to learn to do things himself. For example, cooking, which is one of his great passions in life. He proudly speaks about the first time he managed to make perfect scrambled eggs after countless failed attempts. 

Tobias does not intend to let his limitations, or "functional challenges" as he chooses to call them, define who he is. 

Despite many setbacks and tough challenges, the period after the accident has also included many highlights. Tobias has experienced that a lot is possible but it requires a bit of creativity and courage. 

He shares, among other things, about when Filippa wanted to take him on a jet ski, and his first reaction was "It's not possible, I'm in a wheelchair", but it actually was. Positioned between a friend and Filippa, they managed to support him so that Tobias was able to experience the adrenaline rush of jet skiing! 

Life today 

Although life looks quite different today for Tobias, many things remain the same. Tobias and his wife, Filippa, still enjoy the same things they did before the accident, including working out, watching movies, eating tasty food, and meeting friends.  

Tobias has an optimistic perspective on life: he has accepted that the accident has happened and now tries to make the best of his life as it is now. He is clear that this has not always been an easy task and that sometimes is a difficult and complex journey. But at the same time, it has been important for Tobias to accept the situation and continue to be ambitious, with goals to work towards whilst being surrounded by a supportive network. "Unfortunately, there is no simple recipe or book that tells you how to handle setback," says Tobias. "It's a path one must choose for oneself, and how one handles such a situation is probably very individual". 

There were many things Tobias thought were impossible when he was hospitalised. It was a fact that his life had changed forever and he now had to prepare for a life in a wheelchair. Today, Tobias shares his experiences since the accident with a large audience through his lecture "New Perspectives". Here, he conveys how he handled setbacks and managed to move forward in life when everything seemed hopeless. 

Ice hockey is still a huge part of Tobias' life, where he, as a board member for Leksands IF, actively follows his team's successes. He has also been an expert commentator for CMore but now devotes himself entirely to his new career as a speaker, where hockey is a recurring topic of discussion and a strong source of inspiration. 

The Innowalk’s positive impact on physical and mental health 

Just like before, Tobias feels good from working out, and he describes how much energy the training gives him. The gym has become somewhat of a safe haven, where he goes for a change of scenery and, not least, the feeling that comes after a hard workout session. 

young man trying innowalk with a physiotherapist

Nowadays, the Innowalk is also an important part of his daily physical activity. It gives him the opportunity to stand tall with the feeling that he is a man of 185 cm, whilst being able to move his arms and legs at the same time. He experiences that his body reacts positively to standing and moving. Among other things, his spasticity has been significantly reduced. Tobias says that he previously suffered a lot at night from his legs jumping and kicking, but these symptoms have decreased since he started using the Innowalk. 

He notices a significant difference in relation to his gastrointestinal function, which can commonly affect individuals who spend many hours sitting in a wheelchair. Now this has impoved as he is able to stand and move his whole body.  

People are not made for sitting and Tobias expresses his gratitude that someone has invented Innowalk. 


“People are not made for sitting”
- Tobias Richloow Forsberg 


For Tobias, the Innowalk is an activity that affects both his physical and mental health. Even if the injury means that he cannot feel parts of his body, he still feels more comfortable when he returns to the wheelchair after a session in the Innowalk. Above all, he notices a significant improvement in his well-being. 

Being able to stand up and see his legs move as they did before the injury is described as a fantastic feeling by Tobias.  

What is the Innowalk? 

The Innowalk is a dynamic standing device suitable for children and adults with significantly reduced independent standing and walking abilities. 

Innowalk offers: 

Assisted movement: Motor-assisted and repetitive movement of the whole body in an upright and weight-bearing position. 

Positioning: Adaptable support points enabling appropriate positioning and exceptional comfort. 

Safe use: Safe use with adjustable spasm control, which means that the leg movement stops if the person has a spasm. 

Tobbe 2.0 

The time after the accident has put Tobias' life into a new perspective, and he explains how he had to rediscover himself in many ways. The “hockey player” was such a big part of his identity, and he asked himself the difficult question, "Who am I now? And what should I do with my life?" In a way, he was afraid that he would become a worse version of himself. But it has turned out to be the opposite, and he feels more like "Tobbe 2.0". Tobias has higher aspirations for things he wants to achieve in life. Today, he feels gratitude for the small moments, and it is also the small moments that are so meaningful to him. 

Tobias expresses immense gratitude for all the people who have been by his side and supported him since the accident that almost cost him his life that day in December 2018. Hockey fans and the entire hockey world have cheered him on, along with friends and family. Especially his family and his wife, Filippa, who have been and still are his most important supporters. 


Physical activity has many positive effects

Rikke Damkjær Moen - Physiotherapist and Medical Manager
Rikke Damkjær Moen - Physiotherapist and Medical Manager

Rikke Damkjær Moen brings many years of experience as clinical physiotherapist to the Made for Movement team. Her mission is to ensure that everybody, regardless of mobility problems, should be able to experience the joy and health benefits of physical activity. As our Medical Manager, Rikke is passionate about sharing knowledge so that individuals with special needs, families, and clinicians can discover the possibilities and solutions provided by Made for Movement.

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