Spinal injuries athletes make Yorkshire proud

Inter Spinal Unit Games tennis winner, Neil Malcolm.  A team of athletes, all with recent spinal cord injuries, have made the area proud at a national sporting event.


Eight athletes, who receive their rehabilitation at the Yorkshire Regional Spinal Injuries Centre at Pinderfields Hospital, competed against spinal units from across Great Britain at the 26th annual Inter-Spinal Unit Games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, coming fourth overall.


The event which ran from 16 to 19 April included sports such as Rugby, Athletics, Bowls, Fencing, Shooting and Table Tennis. It also included an opportunity for all the athletes to get involved in activities that they might not have tried before.


As well as the group’s overall success, individual athletes from the regional team blew away the competition including Neil Malcolm, aged 33 who grew up in Batley and now lives in Mirfield, who won the wheelchair tennis and came third in the archery.


Speaking about his success, Neil, who is paraplegic, said: “I am extremely proud. It’s not something I was expecting and the competition was tough. It’s given me a real determination to carry on down the sporting line and I’m particularly interested in now trying my hand at triathlon.


"At Pinderfields they have taught us the importance of staying active and the games was a great introduction to the wide range of sports available to people in wheelchairs.


“It was a really enjoyable three days, we made new friends and winning the tennis was a nice to end to a fantastic event.”


Staff from the regional spinal injuries centre at Pinderfields, which is part of The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, accompanied the team at the event.


Fiona Dixon, Physiotherapist, said: “I am very proud of our athletes and to be part of the group that went to this inspiring event.


“Getting involved in sport and activity is an important part of rehabilitation, not just physically but in the way it can help build confidence and self esteem.


“As well as doing brilliantly in the games, the feedback I have received is that the athletes felt a level of independence in staying away from home in different surroundings that is a challenge for anyone with a recently acquired spinal injury.”


Notes to editors

·      PHOTO: Inter Spinal Unit Games tennis winner, Neil Malcolm.

·      The games are aimed at spinal cord patients who have acquired their injuries in the last year.

·      13 spinal units from across Great Britain took part in the games.

·      The Yorkshire Regional Spinal Injuries Centre is one of the Regional Spinal Injuries Centres in Great Britain dedicated to the management and rehabilitation of spinally-injured patients. It treats patients of all age groups from across Yorkshire, Humberside and beyond. Over 1,200 day patients attend the Centre every year for rehab and up to 30 patients are cared for on the ward at any one time. In 2010, the Centre moved into its new location at the new Pinderfields Hospital. The new facilities are providing a purpose-built and accessible environment with greater privacy and dignity for patients. It also has modern, new facilities for rehabilitation with the latest kit and technology.