West Coast premiership hero Tom Barrass has opened up on the back injury that almost ended his AFL career and permanently altered his life.
Sitting down with 7NEWS for an exclusive interview, the 28-year-old said he’s lucky to still be walking — let alone playing.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Tom Barrass lifts lid on back injury.
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Barrass broke his back in a split-second contest against Richmond last year.
“I went up for a mark. Jack Riewoldt came back into me and tunnelled me a little bit. I’ve gone over and landed on my neck effectively,” he told 7NEWS Perth’s Ryan Daniels.
“It was a compression fracture to my T8 (vertebrae) and I’ve wedged about five of my other vertebrae a bit shorter. It’s just something I’m going to have to manage forever.
Barrass says he is lucky he is not a paraplegic or quadriplegic. Credit: Getty Images
“I’m very lucky that I’m not a paraplegic or quadriplegic.”
The injury not only turned Barrass’s life around but that of his family.
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His partner Nadia had just given birth to their second child four months before the injury.
Seven months on and the footballer still struggles with the effects on a day-to-day basis.
“It still gives me a bit of trouble in my everyday life. It’s OK when I’m moving but as soon as I’m static I feel like I’ve got a broken back again,” Barrass said.
“It’s a permanent thing and it’s something that I work on from the second I wake up I’ve got to do my mobility and get moving and find a way to come to work.
“Because it is my job, ultimately, at the end of the day. I still consider myself lucky to have the life that I have and in the scheme of things it’s a problem that I can manage.
“A bit of suffering is good, I hear.”
Barrass, who is under contract until the end of the 2027 season, accepts the risk of further damage.
“But with the physiotherapy and some of the other medical treatments that are available to me, I’m able to get out of bed and get moving and get on with my life mostly,” he said.
“If I do it again I’m certainly in trouble but mate, I’m like you, I’ve got a mortgage, this is my job and I’ve got a family and I’ve got to go to work everyday.
“There’s a point at which I’ll certainly stop trying or have to completely prioritise things (at home) but I’ve got a job.
“I’ve got a role to play and I’m going to do my very best to balance all the balls while I can and if that becomes unmanageable I’ll have to say goodbye.”