25 Aug

Therapy Centre gets paralysed man back on his feet

By Laura Childs 25th Aug, 2023 Leisure Rehabilitation

A man who was told he would never walk again is taking his first steps thanks to the I Can Therapy Centre in Andover, Hampshire.

The centre’s unique exercise approach combines specialist power-assisted equipment with coaching from an experienced team of professionals and volunteers to help individuals move and mobilise their muscles and joints.

The centre is having a profound impact on the lives of people in Andover and the surrounding areas, none more so than 52-year-old Mark, who faced a life-changing event in March 2022 when he suffered an aortic dissection. The motorbike enthusiast underwent thoracic arch replacement surgery, but his spinal cord was affected during the operation resulting in the loss of his ability to walk or bear weight using his legs. Mark was told he would never walk again and after more than four months in hospital was discharged home.

Mark was determined to continue his rehabilitation and approached the I Can Therapy Centre in the hope the service could help him on his journey to independence.

At his first assessment in August 2022, Mark explained his primary goal was to walk again. To achieve this, he aimed to increase muscle mass and strength in his hamstrings and glutes, as well as his overall strength and mobility. After completing a series of functional tests - zero repetitions on the sit-to-stand test, 37kg on the hand grip test and 6/10 for self-perception of his physical and mental health - the team devised an exercise programme to help Mark reach his goals.

For the next six months, Mark used the centre’s circuit of power-assisted exercise equipment from Innerva multiple times a week. Movement on each of the specialist machines is initiated by an electronic power system, which enables users to be mobilised by the equipment and therefore move passively. When they are ready and able to progress, users can actively engage their muscles and cardiovascular systems to move their muscles and joints throughout their natural range of movement.

Fast forward to February 2023, and Mark’s dedication was paying off. He could now bear weight and take a few steps using a walking aid, an impressive improvement from the first assessment. His self-perceived physical and mental health also saw a substantial boost, rising to a score of 8/10. 

As Mark’s strength and mobility continued to improve, so his goals evolved. His new goal was to navigate between exercise machines without relying on a wheelchair while continuing to strengthen his legs and glutes.

By May 2023, just nine months after his first visit to the I Can Therapy Centre, Mark was able to transition between machines using only a walking aid. His remarkable progress has real impact on his day to day life making getting out of a chair and in and out of a car much easier.

Reflecting on his experience at the centre, Mark said: “The I Can Therapy Centre means a lot to me. I cannot go to a  ‘normal’ gym, so it enables me to keep physically active and work on my rehabilitation, knowing I’m in safe hands. It has worked wonders and gives me an excuse to get up in the morning and something to look forward to.”

In addition to giving Mark a sense of purpose and aiding his recovery, regular use of the power-assisted exercise circuit has also boosted his mental health, he says.

“Since starting at the centre, I can now stand and walk with a frame. As I was told that I would never walk again, this has had a fairly significant impact on me. The centre not only helps me physically but mentally as well. It’s a great place to socialise and meet new people - everyone is very friendly.”

Mark’s ultimate dream is to walk without any assistance and, in the future, return to his beloved motorbike. He continues to work with the team at the I Can Therapy Centre towards his goals.

“We take great pride in being part of Mark’s inspiring journey. We are committed to using our tailored exercise approach combined with the support of our dedicated team to empower more people like Mark to overcome challenges and achieve their personal goals,” says Jacob Webb, Exercise Therapist at The I Can Therapy Centre.

For more information on the I Can Therapy Centre and their work visit their website.