Michael didn’t let his injury stop him from making the most of his university experience

Michael didn’t let his injury stop him from making the most of his university experience

An Edge Hill University Sports Development student who overcame a serious brain injury to become a dedicated pupil has been awarded a Chancellor’s Scholarship at a graduation ceremony held on campus.

A keen sportsman, Michael Cartmell was playing a routine game of football seven years ago when he went for a header and clashed with another player. He went home with a bad headache, however things became more serious when his mother couldn’t wake him up from a nap and he was rushed to hospital.

Michael, now 24 years old, had suffered an acute subarachnoid hemorrhage and developed a blood clot in his brain. As a result of such a serious head trauma, he was in an induced coma for four weeks and spent a further two months in hospital.

“I remember waking up in the hospital and seeing my friends but not being able to speak,” recalls Michael. “I had to relearn everything including how to walk and talk. I was left with a slight right-sided weakness, which means that as well as learning to write all over again, I had to learn how to use my left hand to do it.”

Michael didn’t let the injury stop him from making the most of his university experience. He still plays football and tennis and has also taken up golf and athletics. Since his accident he has gained numerous qualifications, including football, disabled football, handball, tennis and lacrosse coaching, football refereeing, athletics, gym instructor and disability sports, as well as training in sports safeguarding, first aid and mental health first aid.

He also volunteered more than 100 hours for Edge Hill’s Get Active programme, coaching tennis to beginners, and was the University’s first ever tennis captain.

“I managed to remain focused throughout the three years of my degree due to the determination I had to succeed after my brain injury. It gave me a different perspective on life. Balancing your time at university is crucial, but for me it was even harder as I had to do my rehab at the same time,” he said.

Learning Facilitator, Christine Oaks from Edge Hill’s Inclusive Services Team nominated Michael for the scholarship in recognition of his commitment to his studies and helping others.

“From day one Michael completed every course that was suggested, both on campus and off. He achieved the gold award for volunteering after three years working with people of all abilities.  He has also worked with people with disabilities off campus and during his summer breaks, and secured a summer camp position during which he traveled around coaching.

“Michael has shown his leadership skills in so many ways during his time at Edge Hill but has also been reliable, punctual and driven to achieve his full potential. When you add to this a personality that is easy to work with, listens to all the advice he is given and continually goes back to his tutors to find out how he can improve, you can see why I thought his hard work should be recognised,” Christine said.

Now that his studies have come to an end, Michael is looking forward to commencing his career in sports. A feat he didn’t think possible seven years ago.

“After I graduate I plan to complete my Masters in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health, as well as carrying on with my tennis coaching and see what opportunities arise. My career aspiration would be to specialise in disability sports, particularly tennis,” he said.

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