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Karin Matthews

My One to One Day at Lingfield with Dr. Tom Balchin

What a warm and positive welcome my husband Tony and I received from Tom and his physiotherapist colleague Daniel. I explained my stroke occurred in March 2011and we were soon going through some important paperwork while Tom watched my physical movements and verbal responses. Tom explained the principals behind the ARNI Approach and the many challenges he personallyhad to overcome after his own stroke to achieve his return to fitness and how these learning curves plus the work of researchers, therapists and trainers over the years to create a continually updated ‘evidence=base’ helped him to devise his strategies to help stroke victims, atwhatever stage of their stroke survival they might be, to reach recovery goals.

Everything we talked about was so very pertinent to what I, and I think so many other stroke victims experience. The plateau we reach after NHS treatment and physio ceases. No one appreciating that with more ‘hands’ on physio/training help so much more can be achieved. This is the gap that ARNI can so successfully fill. It is unbelievable that ARNI does not receive the recognition it deserves through government ‘funding’ channels to enable it to enter the ‘mainstream’ services so vital after a stroke. Tom and I then moved on to video baselines after a sfroke quality of life scale and upper limb function measure with 9 things to do. We did some mat based exercises identifying what areas of physical help I need and identified where my ‘edges of current ability’ are with lots of things. The going was tough but Tom modified everything we did to achieve maximum success and build up my confidence that so much, which I had thought impossible, can be achieved following his example and lead going through the challenge of getting down to and back up from the floor. Such a confidence building exercise as this is a hurdle which removes some of the ‘vulnerability’ experienced by most of us after our strokes. When we are down on the floor, most of us feel like ’turtles turned over on their shells’. Utterly helpless and reliant on others to help us get back up. A horrible, frightening place to be. Mastering this gives us back much more than just the physical ability to get up but removes the emotional feeling that we are helpless. Tom knows this feeling and he knows what a great boost mastering this is in motivating recovery. We did other strengthening exercises designed to overcome leg weakness especially for the back of the legm called ‘prone leg curls’.

We broke for a delicious sandwich lunch continuing our stroke experience conversations. Every experience and hurdle I encountered after my stroke Tom could identify with everything with. His knowledgable responses and suggestions offered such encouragement and positive predictions for future ongoing recovery. Tom then spent time working through oarticular stretches I can do myself for my left upper sided affected limbs to create a plastic template. We did task related training exercises to reduce the spasticity in my fingers using a task training board and also a challenge board, while encouraging stretching of fingers, techniques to relax the hand as it fights to clench, etc. We then proceeded on to picking up and moving different shaped objects correctly, using his specially designed ‘Velcro’ Board, with my affected hand and releasing them again. Screwing up and unscrewing jars and using the prototype Hand/Finger stretching heavy metal device’ also designed by Tom. The ‘unclenching’ techniques assisting these exercises greatly.

I finished this thoroughly positive and Successful Stroke Recovery ‘enlightening’ day with Tom on a personal high looking forward to setting out on the ‘Successful Stroke Recovery Journey’ with Tom and ARNI’S ongoing support.

Three days later I received a very long email with all my exercises and strategies to do, all personalised for me to do by myself and/or with Paul, my new trainer, who Tom was able to match me up with via his referrals manager, Kathy. Kathy sorted all this out and now I’m also coming back for a free training half day in a week’s time, with another 3 or 4 of these free days to come during early 2015.

Thanks Tom at ARNI (and Stroke Solutions which admisters the matches to qualified, accredited and insured ARNI neuro exercise instructors)
Karin Matthews

An email came in two weeks later – we don’t usually place emails up like this, but in this instance, an exception is made – have a read and you’ll understand why..

Hi Tom

Thought you would like to know that, after a fall last night, I managed to get back up on my own using your wonderfully thought through method.
Tony got the chair which I then used as you showed me.
With just a slight adaptation, using a pair of nearby floor weighing scales, which helped me more easily raise myself up on my right side and roll onto my right leg and knee. This worked and put less pressure on my replacement left knee as my right knee took the weight straight away being in the right position you had worked out. Then, it was a case of putting into practice what we had done together and you again showed me at the end. It worked and I and Tony can’t thank you enough for going through that with me on the day we came to Lingfield.
It means a fall can be overcome and you know only too well what a feeling of relief that is.

Working with Paul, your trainer, is working out so well too and I am working my way through your e-mailed exercise plan, alongside what Paul is working with me on, every day building up my strength. I can already feel the benefits
and that, through your and Paul’s help, has motivated me to step out of my comfort zone and work hard every day to maintain recovery progress.
I know you will be pleased to hear this.

All for now, Karin

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