Following advice from SIA trustee Martin McClelland, Coronation Street will be broadcasting a new storyline featuring the Webster family, which will kick off on Wednesday 24 October.
Sophie Webster will be involved in a road accident that causes a burst fracture at T12, with a fragment of bone pressing on the spinal cord, causing neurological problems in her legs.
Actress Brooke Vincent, who plays Sophie, had little previous knowledge of spinal cord injury (SCI) before the storyline began. Last week Brooke met up with Jamie Rhind, our Vocational Support Officer, to find out more about the impact of spinal cord injuries, and the rehabilitation that SCI people strive to complete as they rebuild their lives with SCI.
This is what Brooke has to say about the new storyline.
How did Sophie feel after the accident, and when she finds out she has damaged her spinal cord?
At first she is just in shock at where she is and the fact that she is being told she was involved in an accident. So her reaction is gradual, at first she is disorientated, she doesn’t know what has happened and then she starts to come round and it all comes back.
When she is told that she could be paralysed for the rest of her life, she can’t feel her legs at all and it scares her. All she can remember is pushing her friend Ryan out of the way of the car so she doesn’t understand why she can’t feel her legs. She is very scared when the doctor is telling her all about the operation she has to have. Sophie is one of those people who gives it the big ‘I am’ and pretends she is not really that scared in most situations. But there is a point where she looks up at Sally and she is a little girl again who just wants her mum to tell her it will all be ok and of course Sally can’t do that.
The fact that she may not walk again hasn’t really sunk in and it will be interesting to see how she reacts as the story develops.
Spinal Cord injury can be a catastrophic event, not just for the individual, but for their loved ones too. How did Sally and Kevin react when they found out Sophie was injured?
For both Kevin and Sally it is a shock. Sophie gets herself into sticky situations through trying to help people. She isn’t badly behaved or troublesome out of bad behaviour. She puts herself at risk for other people. When they find out that Ryan was involved, Sally in particular is mortified because she took Ryan in at Sophie’s request. They are also angry that he ran off and left her.
Did you know much about spinal cord injuries before this storyline began?
Not really. The storyline has been a learning curve.
I found it really hard and it’s been so restraining on what you can actually do. A few weeks ago I had weights on my legs and that’s when it hit home for me – you can’t just nip upstairs and you can’t jump into the car and drive off.
It’s inspirational how people cope after their injury.
How did you research for the storyline?
Last week I spent time with a member of the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) team on set. Jamie Rhind, who is spinal cord injured himself, uses his knowledge and experience to support newly injured people as part of SIA’s Outreach Services. Jamie was helping me to understand how Sophie would be affected emotionally during this time, especially at the start of her rehab. I found this really useful. All I want is to get it right for the people who are watching, and who have gone through something similar.
What was it like filming the accident and subsequent hospital scenes?
Filming the scenes in the hospital bed were so hard because I had to make sure I didn’t move any part of my body other than my head. I think my body thought it was shutting down and I kept nodding off!
What did you find most challenging about the filming?
Filming the actual accident was difficult. The hardest thing about this one was the fact that you had to walk out in front of a moving car and however much the stunt coordinator told you that the car would stop, it went against every instinct to step out in the road. The cars were so close but it was so cleverly done. For me filming something so different was just amazing. At the same time as concentrating on the stunt we had to remember where the cameras were and the lines. The stunt man and woman were great though – my stunt double had to do the roll on the car and onto the road – scary stuff.
Find out more about the storyline, and how Jamie helped Brooke with her research for the role at: