Freak accident paralyses Ipswich maths teacher

IT was the Easter holidays and Ipswich Grammar teacher Alan Campbell had dropped into school to catch up with some work.

It was a normal thing for the dedicated maths teacher to do.

Tragically that normal day turned out to be one he will never be able to forget.

Alan stumbled while walking down a flight of stairs suffering a serious spinal injury.

The fall broke his neck, leaving the much-loved teacher with no feeling in his arms or legs.

Since the accident, Mr Campbell has been in Princess Alexandra Hospital's Spinal Injuries Unit.

Fortunately he has made some small improvements prompting him to commit to one day walking back through Ipswich Grammar School's front gate.

"I couldn't feel anything below my neck and straight away I knew I was in trouble," he said.

"I knew I mightn't be found for a while so I tried to relax and slow down my breathing while I waited for help.

Alan Campbell, pictured with wife Jackie, sustained serious spinal injuries when he fell down a flight of stairs at Ipswich Grammar School. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times
Alan Campbell, pictured with wife Jackie, sustained serious spinal injuries when he fell down a flight of stairs at Ipswich Grammar School. Photo Inga Williams / The Queensland Times Inga Williams

"It was school holidays so I was lying there for an hour and a half before someone found me."

The 59-year-old was being taken by helicopter to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane when his wife Jackie got the call.

"My son said he'd just fallen down some stairs so I thought it must be a broken arm or leg," she said.

"As soon as I heard he was taken by helicopter, I knew it wasn't good."

An initial examination revealed Mr Campbell had broken his C5 and C6 and compressed his C3 and C4 vertebrae.

After two weeks in intensive care, the maths teacher was transferred to a high care unit before starting the recovery process at the Spinal Injuries Unit.

"I have got a lot of feeling now all over my body," he said.

"I can move my left arm and fingers, both my legs are fairly strong but my right side is lagging a bit.

"The short-term goal is to improve everyday as much as possible.

"The long-term goal is to try and teach again and get back into coaching cricket, tennis and rugby."

After being married for 29 years, Mrs Campbell said if anyone had the strength to recover from such a horrific injury, it was her husband.

"When we lived in South Africa Alan was lost in the mountains for five days in the freezing snow," she said.

"I was told to give up but he found his way out and survived.

"He is so strong and he has no negativity, I'm just in awe."

Mr Campbell said he had been overwhelmed by the amount of support he had received from the community.

"I'd like to say thank-you to all those people who have offered their support," he said.

Mr Campbell said while it was hard to predict the speed of his recovery, he hoped to be able to go home in the next four months.

"I've got an excellent support team here at the PA," he said.

"At the moment I'm just trying to reach goals day by day."

With the help of his sons Stewart and Drew the Campbell family set up a Facebook page to keep the Ipswich community informed of Alan's ongoing progress.

To leave Mr Campbell a message visit the Alan Campbell Recovery and Support Facebook page.


Topics:  editors picks paralysed spinal injury

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