Bringing home a medal

Being deaf isn’t stopping women like Keira How from achieving big things both within the physiotherapy profession and within sport

Keira How is a physiotherapist at Pinehill Hospital in Hitchin treating MSK and orthopaedic patients
Keira How is a physiotherapist at Pinehill Hospital in Hitchin treating MSK and orthopaedic patients

I’ve been profoundly deaf since I was two years old – believed to be caused by antibiotics given to me as a premature baby born at 32 weeks. No one in my family is deaf; I rely largely on lip reading and my hearing aids. My education was mainstream, and I did well, going on to sixth form and then to the University of Brighton to study physiotherapy. 

Sport was always a big outlet for me, I don’t have to concentrate to lip-read people like I do all day and my visual awareness makes up for my lack of hearing.

My interest in sport, healthy lifestyle, strength and fitness is what led me to physiotherapy.

In addition, living with a disability gives me more empathy and understanding to barriers people with limitations and disabilities can face. 

I want to help people live their best and longest life – no matter what their circumstances. 

Football is my main sport. Playing as a winger or forward, I’ve been selected to represent England Deaf Women, a team I did not know existed until I was 29, and I am now 33. Originally, we were part of an FA para team pathway but sadly, the FA withdrew its funding for deaf women’s 11-a-side football earlier this year. 

Now self-funded, being supported by GB Deaf Football, public donations and a huge sponsorship from Frank Hester OBE, owner of TPP and the creator of SystmOne, an IT platform used in the NHS, we are off to the Deaf Football World Cup in Malaysia this month. 

This is very exciting, there has been a lot of activity on social media, and it will be England/GB women’s first international tournament since 2017. 

I will be away from my family and two-year-old son for three weeks, which will be tough, but I’m hoping to do everyone proud and bring home a medal with the team and hopefully inspire other deaf girls and women like myself. Especially off the back of the Lionesses’ success this year in the World Cup. 

The current team also features striker Clodagh Farrell, a physiotherapy student at the University of Gloucester, defender Jennifer Evans, starting a physiotherapy degree at Robert Gordon University, and our squad physio and ex GB football player Rebecca East-O’Keeffe, who is also deaf. 

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