Stephen Hawking shares his experiences at Headway Neurological Conference

On Wednesday 5 October, we exhibited at the Neurological Headway Suffolk conference, where world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking appeared as a guest speaker.

During his speech, Professor Hawking, told a busy conference hall how he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease more than 50 years ago.

“In my third year in Oxford, I noticed I was getting clumsier. I fell over once or twice and couldn’t understand why. I was somewhat disgruntled to be told at the time to lay off the beer but I suppose it was understandable when talking with a student.”

“The realisation that I had an incurable disease was a bit of a shock. I felt it was unfair that something like this could happen to me. I had no idea what my future would turn out to be and I was advised to return to Cambridge and carry on with my research. It was a confusing time.”

His speech also touched upon his realisation that MND and his disability would not stop him from achieving.

“In 1970, I had a ‘Eureka’ moment. While going to bed one evening, I realised that black holes were not really black – they had a temperature and would glow red like hot coals. I had discovered a concept that was named after me – Hawking Radiation.

“It took my research down new avenues but what it also proved is that MND was no barrier to thinking, achieving and getting on with life. We just have to find new ways of doing things.”

His inspiring speech also focused on his feelings around disability and his own beliefs about what can be achieved.

He said: “I feel lucky that my disability has not been a serious handicap in my scientific work and has not prevented me from leading a full and active life. I believe people with disability should concentrate on things that their handicap doesn’t prevent them from doing and not regret those they can’t do. Easily said I know.”

Trulife staff members, Nicci Rodgers and Desiree Swanepoel, spent time at the conference demonstrating the WalkAide, an functional electrical stimulation device for patients who experience foot drop caused by upper motor neuron injuries or central nerves system disorders.

Watch Professor Hawking’s speech in full below: