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Rob's Magic Moment: From Adversity to University

Monday, April 17, 2017

SpecialEffect help to support people through the most difficult times in their lives. Rob was unfortunate enough to be in a car crash aged just 19, leaving him tetraplegic and on a ventilator. SpecialEffect helped him through his recovery, enabling him to continue his life and go to university.

Rob had just come back from a gap year at the time of his accident. He was a keen sports person, enjoying rugby, rowing and going to the gym. He was due to start at York University to study politics, philosophy and economics when he had the accident towards the end of 2015.

A friend of the family saw Dr Mick Donegan, Founder & CEO of SpecialEffect giving a talk and thought we might be able to help. Rob’s family got in touch and we arranged to go to the hospital to assess Rob and see if eye-gaze could help. The first visit was very promising and we loaned Rob an eye-gaze control system. It tracks Rob’s eye movement; a blink is like the click of a mouse. Seeing the system in action, Ian, Rob’s Dad said:

“It was the first thing Robert was able to do for himself after the accident, so that was a huge thing, to realise he didn’t have to rely on everyone for absolutely everything”.

At the moment, Rob is using eye-gaze mainly for accessing the internet - especially Facebook and Skype to enable him to keep in touch with friends (he had almost 800 emails to catch up on!). He’s been able to play games and has also been checking the rugby scores! He told us:

“It’s just nice for me to be competitive again”.

Rob’s Dad Ian explained the difference that eye-gaze has made to Rob's life while in hospital:

“Robert had three months in intensive care and to give him mental stimulation during that time was huge in coping with his condition. It’s made a huge difference; it almost doesn’t bear thinking about how he would have coped without it.”

Rob has now been offered an unconditional place at Bristol University in September. SpecialEffect will continue to support Rob along his journey.

Hear from Rob and his dad the difference that SpecialEffect have made to his life in this video