Lions’ LB Jack Hinsperger begins long road to recovery after ‘likely career-ending’ injury

Photo courtesy: Steven Chang/B.C. Lions

B.C. Lions’ linebacker Jack Hinsperger underwent a successful nerve reconstruction surgery on Friday, taking an important step in what is expected to be a long recovery from the injury he suffered in the CFL playoffs.

The 25-year-old rookie was covering a kickoff in the West Semi-Final on November 4, 2023, when he collided helmet-to-helmet with Calgary Stampeders’ returner Peyton Logan. The hit left both players unconscious for at least a minute and reportedly fractured a vertebrae in Logan’s neck, though it was Hinsperger who walked away with the most significant damage.

The native of Waterloo, Ont. was diagnosed with a severe brachial plexus injury, which manifested as a complete loss of function in his right bicep, deltoid, and some scapular muscles. He also suffered weakness in other areas and severe nerve pain. Later tests revealed no neural activity in those muscles, which also affected his forearm, triceps, trap, and pec.

Hinsperger has shown marked improvement over several months of rehabilitation, regaining some grip and dexterity in his right hand, as well as improving power and range of motion. However, surgery was required to reconstruct the path of his musculocutaneous and axillary nerves to spark recovery in his shoulder and bicep.

The diagnosis is likely career-ending and Hinsperger has begun to share his story via a new Instagram account, @rehabwjack. He hopes that by making his recovery journey public for fans, he can provide inspiration for others and motivate himself to stay accountable to the gruelling process ahead of him.

“After the surgery, I face up to 2.5 years of rehab to get my arm back,” he wrote in his inaugural post this week. “My arm won’t ever be the same, and the pain may never go away, but I won’t stop working and because of that my arm will continue to improve.”

Photo courtesy: Steven Chang/B.C. Lions

Hinsperger played six games in his first CFL season, recording four special teams tackles. The team’s seventh-round selection in the 2023 CFL Draft was a first-team OUA all-star in 2022 and finished his university career at Waterloo with 94.5 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one fumble recovery, and one interception.

The scary nature of the hit and Hinsperger’s injury has prompted the CFL to explore potential changes to their kickoff rules this offseason. Lions’ co-general manager Neil McEvoy has been the most vocal advocate for reducing the amount of kickoffs, citing concerns over “player safety.

In the meantime, Hinsperger has a long road ahead of him, all of which he plans to capture on social media. His professional goals are shifting as well, with hopes of returning to school for a physiotherapy degree in the future.