Our ARNI experience – June 2009 – Who needs a Wheelchair anyway?
My wife, Beth, had a stroke 10 months ago due to a brain haemorrhage which left her paralyzed on her left side. She is young, 36, so it was a shock to myself and our 2 young children. She spent 8 months in hospital where she slowly regained use of some of her leg muscles and after daily physio sessions and was able to walk very slowly for short distances with the aid of a walking stick.
After she was discharged her physio sessions went down to 1 per week and I saw she was making no progress and that the physios were concentrating more on relieving any muscle tightness without working with her to get her do any tasks which could start movement in her limbs. And she was definitely not given any motivation to try.
At this stage Beth seemed to give up and accepted that this is how it was going to be and settled into her electric wheelchair.
This is when I searched the internet to try to find a better approach and found ARNI.
I spoke with Dr Tom Balchin (founder) and he tried straight away to pair Beth with a trainer, but as we live in North Wales we were some distance from the closest ARNI trainer in Chester so Tom offered us the opportunity to go down to see him and have an intensive one on one training session covering a 2 day period. We gladly accepted and saw Tom this June.
Beth was used to getting around on a wheelchair and only walked as part of her physio program so it was a bit of a shock to her when we arrived at Tom’s house to be told that he didn’t want her to use the chair and asked her to walk with her stick down the drive to his front door so he could assess her abilities, which she did (slowly).
Tom has 2 steps leading into his house and Beth had not attempted steps before but was able to get up these and then down 3 stairs into his training area and then Tom asked for Beth’s stick which she begrudgingly gave up and then walked her first unaided steps. I was amazed at what she could actually do but also very disappointed because she was obviously capable of this yet nobody had tried to push her past her “comfort zone” before!
Tom has a great talent at persuading people to push themselves further than the boundaries they think they have and Beth said she listened much more to him than her usual physio because she knew he had gone through the same as her yet was stood in front of her as if nothing had happened. So she gave him a lot of respect for that.
During the 2 days we were given a lot of advice and shown various techniques to help Beth which were really helpful, and then after four tries she managed to get down to the floor and up again without help! I was so pleased to see this, and she is going to have less fear of the floor. The training mostly concentrated on her walking, which is more important at this stage, which she did most of the time unaided.
When we arrived back at home the first thing we did was to send the electric wheelchair back and Beth now walks around the house and her walking is improving. We are now happy to make the 2 hour round trip to see an ARNI trainer and feel very optimistic about the future.
I cannot thank Tom enough for showing Beth that there is light at the end of the tunnel and with hard work, a good recovery is well within her reach.
Update from Jeff 8th July 2009:
Great news about your new books. Soon be able to help a lot more people 🙂
We met ARNI trainer Terry Samuels, nice guy, his gym is on the first floor but beth flew up the stairs no problem! Seeing him again on Fri and every week from now on, seems to know his stuff when it comes to the ARNI program.
All the best
Update from Jeff 11th July 2009:
Just to let you know, Terry worked on Beths arm yesterday to try and trigger some kind of movement and she managed to close her fingers AND move her arm up to her chest!!!!!
So we are all overjoyed, great news eh:))))
Getting on really well with Terry he’s a top guy.
All the best
Update from Jeff 6th August 2009:
We are doing good thanks, seeing Terry weekly and Beths progressing well, she gets on well with Terry and enjoys her sessions.
She’s going upstairs at home now which is good considering we were contemplating a stair lift 6 months ago!
Not on holiday (I wish) but sure we will go somewhere soon.
We will order a gripper as her hand is starting to work now.
Bout time you had a break and visited Wales eh?
All the best mate