John’s hard work and determination leads to remarkable results

In late February 2023, 84-year-old John paid a visit to his GP for a regular heart check. He had no idea what was to come.  

The ultrasound revealed a startling truth – his arteries were severely blocked, and his aortic valve was leaking. He was urgently referred to the hospital by his cardiologist where he underwent emergency surgery, marking the beginning of a lengthy hospital stay that would stretch over many months.  

Regrettably, during John’s heart surgery, he experienced a stroke, which added to his health challenges. The stroke primarily affected the right side of his body, resulting in a significant loss of strength and limited movement. Everyday tasks like getting out of bed, moving to a chair, using the toilet, showering, and dressing became reliant on assistance from two people. John also had to rely on a wheelchair for mobility. Additionally, the extended time spent lying on his left side during surgery led to the loss of sensation in three fingers of his left hand, affecting his fine motor skills and coordination. Using his arms to support himself was risky.

After spending three and a half weeks in the hospital, John was transferred to Royal Rehab Private Petersham in late March 2023 to start his rehabilitation. John worked closely with a dedicated rehabilitation team to outline his goals, which included regaining independent mobility, managing personal care and household tasks on his own, returning to independent living at home, and, ultimately, regaining the ability to drive.

John’s rehabilitation plan centred around intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Physiotherapy aimed to rebuild his lower body strength, restore range of motion, and improve mobility. Occupational therapy focused on enhancing John’s self-reliance in daily activities, such as personal care, meal preparation, and household chores. This therapy also aimed to refine his fine motor skills and maximise the use of his arms and hands.

John’s determination was evident as he dedicated two hours a day, seven days a week, to work with the physiotherapy team. Over time, his strength improved, allowing him to transition from a wheelchair to a walker, and eventually, to using a single Canadian crutch for support. With time, he even ventured into the community, walking to a nearby café to enjoy a coffee and read the newspaper.

With hard work and determination, John made remarkable progress at Royal Rehab Private Petersham, and the focus gradually shifted to planning his return home. To ensure his safety and independence, the occupational therapy team assessed his home and guided the necessary modifications, including installing a stair rail, grab rails in the showers, and equipping the bathroom for independent use.

Working closely with John’s two adult children, the social worker determined the extent of family support and arranged for support workers to assist with more challenging household tasks and to provide transportation.

On July 7, John was discharged home, and navigating the steep path to his front door marked a moment of triumph. Reflecting on his journey, John expresses gratitude to the caring staff who have been with him every step of the way. “They were great people,” John says. “They did everything they could to help me. I’ve told everyone I would return to Petersham anytime. They had expertise in stroke recovery, and they were just fantastic. I’m forever grateful.”

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