Stephen Ellison

Paralyzed Cal Rugby Player Focused on Recovery, Future

Robert Paylor's father and doctor say the 20-year-old scholar athlete showing signs of regaining strength, mobility

A Cal rugby player paralyzed during a match earlier this month is focused on fighting for his future, according to his father.

Robert Paylor, 20, is recovering at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center after being partially paralyzed from the chest down during the national championship match May 6.

On Wednesday, Paylor’s father and doctor talked about his prognosis.

"He's taking it like a warrior," Jeff Paylor said.

Robert Paylor's father said his son has never dwelled on what he's lost and instead is focused on his future. And now there's a sign of hope Robert could possibly regain feeling and mobility. His doctor said Robert has sensation in his toes, and he's expected to transfer from critical care to rehabilitation later this week.

"If Robert's strength is regained in both his hands and feet then the sky's the limit," said Dr. Steve McKenna, chief of the rehabilitation trauma center. "But we won't know until his rehabilitation."

Jeff Paylor said his son is also battling pneumonia but still gives his all to his recovery.

"He gives me hope," he said. "Whatever his challenges, he is facing them, and I just don’t know many people who could do that, let alone a 20-year-old kid."

Last weekend, Robert's former rugby team at Jesuit High School, near Sacramento won the national championship. They had dedicated the tournament to Robert before bringing home the trophy. Jeff Paylor said his son was blown away by the tribute.

"Jesuit's motto is be a man for others, and he saw that had come to life," Jeff said. "He was beaming."

Many of the Jesuit High players came down with the flu during the championship game. They said it was Robert's strength dealing with his injuries that motivated them to push through to victory. They called it being "Paylor Strong" and even wore wristbands donning that very phrase.

Doctors say Robert still has months of rehabilitation ahead.

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