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Quadriplegic ex-rugby star delivers ‘inspiring’ lecture to Hallam students

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A paralysed former England rugby union player has told his extraordinary personal story of rehab and recovery as part of an ‘inspiring’ online guest lecture delivered to physiotherapy students at Sheffield Hallam University.  

Ed Jackson was left quadriplegic and paralysed from the shoulders down after a swimming pool diving accident in 2017. Through rehabilitation and determination during lockdown, he has recently climbed equivalent height of Mount Everest on his parents’ staircase, three years after being told he would never walk again.

He shared the story of his injury and road to recovery during an engaging, two-way lecture delivered over Zoom. It provided over 100 undergraduate and postgraduate students with a unique opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into what a spinal cord injury is like, and to understand more about how physiotherapy can help with recovery.

Commenting at the start of his guest talk, Ed said: “I’ve spent a lot of time with physios playing professional rugby and since my accident, so when I was asked to do this talk, I was obviously very happy to. Physiotherapy and physiotherapists have changed my life and saved my life in a lot of ways, not just in a physical sense but on an emotional level as well. As physios, you can have a much bigger impact on people’s lives than you think. It’s a lot more than just relaying what you learn in a textbook and fixing physical injuries, it’s about people. I want to wish you all good luck with the rest of your careers and maybe one day I will meet you in person.” 

First-year BSc Physiotherapy student, Sian Huculak, said: “What stood out for me was Ed’s experience of how his positivity and drive was key to his progress through rehab, and how the specific language used by health professionals can have a big impact on this. He also reinforced that treatment needs to be tailored to the person, which I have learned in my modules, but hearing it first hand is really helpful. When I think about spinal injuries my first thoughts are of sadness, but he came across so positive and clearly this helped him through his rehab, but it has also taught me that in physio I will come across some really disabling conditions and my positivity will be really important when treating patients.” 

Ed Jackson

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Emily Patrick, physiotherapy lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, said: “I would like to thank Ed for giving his time to deliver this inspiring and motivating talk to our physiotherapy students. It was fascinating to hear about his journey following his injury and how physiotherapy has helped him to recover. The students found it really valuable hearing it from a personal perspective as he gave insight into what it was like to be on the receiving-end of his care. It was great for the students to have this exciting opportunity and hear about spinal injury rehabilitation especially as many have missed a placement this year due to Covid 19”.

Ed is now planning to climb Mount Everest in Nepal in aid of Wings For Life, a charity which conducts spinal cord research. Find out more here:

For press information: Nicky Swire in the Sheffield Hallam University press office,