Nicola Wilson has shared a message of hope for those paralysed after a spinal cord injury, following her own life-changing accident last year.

The Olympic medallist and European eventing champion was in the world’s top 10 when she suffered a very serious fall at Badminton Horse Trials in May 2022. She was in intensive care for three weeks after sustaining multiple spinal fractures and was initially paralysed from the neck down. Although Nicola has learnt to walk again, she still suffers from the effects of her injury including Central Cord Syndrome, a condition that causes a loss of sensation and movement in her hands.

No longer able to ride, she is channelling her expertise into coaching the next generation of riders at her North Yorkshire equestrian centre, including equestrian influencer and eventer Megan Elphick.

As part of her role as an Ambassador for Spinal Research, the UK’s leading charity finding a cure for paralysis, Nicola features in the latest episode of Megan’s Vlogmas series on YouTube. After putting Megan through her paces, Nicola talks about her accident, building a new life supporting eventers and their horses, and her hopes for the future.

“This injury steals so much, not just from the person injured but their family and friends,” she said. “It has certainly been an emotional rollercoaster and when I was in hospital for five months learning all the basic life skills again like feeding and dressing myself, I had no idea how far I would be able to recover.

“You can’t turn the clock back so I focus every day on what I can do and not what I can’t. I feel incredibly lucky that I’m walking and can still have a career in the sport I love.

“I get a real buzz out of working with other riders and their horses, seeing them doing well on the competition circuit and helping them fulfil their dreams. I’ve had wonderful people around me and, through the work of Spinal Research, there is hope for the future which is so important.”

‘An incredible experience’

“It’s been an incredible experience to spend time with and learn from Nicola,” Megan said. “She is just so inspiring. It’s also a privilege to be able to spread the message of hope at Christmas.”

Nicola is joined on the Vlogmas episode by the Chair of Spinal Research, Tara Stewart, herself in a wheelchair following a riding accident, who talks about ground-breaking treatments being developed that offer real hope for the future.

“Traditionally this area of research has been chronically under-funded because everyone thought that curing paralysis was impossible but that is no longer the case,” she said. “The great news is that next year the first function restoring treatment in history for chronic spinal cord injury is due to be launched.

“There are also a lot of other treatments in the wings that just need funding to be delivered to the people who need it. If we can get the money I genuinely believe that curing paralysis will be the medical breakthrough of the 21st Century.”

Lead image of from left to right: Megan Elphick, Tara Stewart and Nicola Wilson

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