After dislocating his neck in a snowboarding accident and 'dying' three times, you could be forgiven for thinking Tom Nabarro should be worrying about more than his looks.

But the North Oxford man believes checking his hair is a sure sign he is still recovering from the horrendous fall which left him permanently paralysed.

This time last year, Mr Nabarro, 23, an experienced snowboarder, was lying on a Bulgarian ski slope having almost severed his spinal cord completely in a misjudged backflip attempt.

He said he was visiting his girlfriend, Ellen Stewart, in the country when he decided to go snowboarding.

He said: "I think I was just on a roll and overconfident. I tried to do a backflip and over-rotated it.

"I missed the landing ramp and ended up landing on my head.

"I have a vague memory of thinking 'Oh no' and then a vague memory of facing up, watching the clouds.

"I think I had an out-of-body experience. I remember looking down from a height and seeing the mountain rescue team working on me."

The sports-mad former Cherwell School pupil suffered three cardiac arrests and was unconscious for three weeks before he awoke in intensive care in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury.

It was another three months until he was able to speak due to a tracheotomy - a tube inserted in his throat which pumped air into his lungs.

During that time he had to come to terms with the fact he would be paralysed from the neck down for the rest of his life.

He said: "It was quite difficult and quite emotional, as you can imagine.

"When I heard what my family had to go through, that was pretty hard."

But with the help of a computer with voice recognition software Mr Nabarro has completed his degree in electronics and now plans to begin a job with a research company in October.

He is also free of a neck brace he had to wear for six months after his spine became infected, and a month ago was given a head-activated wheelchair which allows him more freedom to move.

He said: "I think I have been worrying about my looks and how my hair is.

"It's something which never bothered me before, but it's a good sign.

"Being worried about my appearance means I'm not worried about more significant things, like breathing and being able to speak."

Mr Nabarro, originally from St Margaret's Road, said he hopes to be discharged from hospital in the next two months and eventually live in an adapted extension to his grandfather's home in Standlake.

He said: "My life at the moment is very good. The future is bright."