The journey after someone suffers a stroke differs as each stroke affects each individual differently. The severity and impairment of the individual will have an impact on their length of stay in hospital, as an inpatient or outpatient, and their chance of recovery. Each recovery journey differs as well, depending on what services and facilities are available to them. Luckily, Adelaide offers a great standard level of care for stroke and brain injury rehabilitation.
Nathan was an inpatient at Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU) at Hampstead Rehab from June to November 2017. His stay consisted of full time rehabilitation and 24/7 nursing care. This rehabilitation program ensured the smooth transition from hospital to rehab care, where he was able to commence his recovery almost immediately. Early on at BIRU, he was either bed or wheelchair bound. His week would usually consist of one-to-one physio, gym, group physio, occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions. Through his determination and strength, and the support of all the therapists, his physical health improved. He slowly regained some movement in his leg and arm which meant upgrading from a powered wheelchair, to manual wheelchair and eventually to a quad stick.
In August, he underwent an own bone cranioplasty, which unfortunately failed due to an infection and he subsequently had to undergo another craniectomy. This major setback was devastating as it meant a further 6 months wearing the protective helmet and a number of health issues due to further surgery and infection. It was a huge blow in his recovery journey. At that point, it really felt like it was one step forward, two steps back.
However, in November he celebrated his 30th birthday and also celebrated getting discharged from BIRU. He was finally able to go back home! This is a photo of his walk out of BIRU for the last time. He was determined not to use the wheelchair on his final exit out of the building. We needed some home modifications and accessible equipment for Nathan to use whilst he was at home. Ramps, handrails, shower chair and kitchen aids are just some of the things that assist him with home life. He shortly commenced his new program as an outpatient at Brain Injury Rehab Centre Hampstead (BIRCH) where his new team of therapists have continued to support him on recovering as much as possible.
In late March 2018, he underwent his second cranioplasty with an acrylic plate. Surgery went well, he had barely any swelling or bruising, was up and about the day after surgery and was able to go back home a week later. The scar on his head has healed really well and it looks great. Which is a weird thing to comment on, but after having seen it at it’s worst, we’re both very happy with how this cranioplasty has turned out. We hope that this is the last surgery he ever has to have as his head has been opened up too many times for one lifetime.
Nathan will soon be finishing up his program at BIRCH and moving on to work with other therapists. BIRCH only offer a set program, however we are in the fortunate position where he is able to access further rehabilitation services. We’re in the process of researching what is available and recommended in Adelaide and determining what is the best for his recovery.
We never thought we would be in this position a year ago. How can such a severe stroke and subsequent brain injury happen to someone so fit and healthy? Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone. One unfortunate event can change a person’s life and those around them. To be honest, his journey has just started. We’ve been fortunate enough to talk to other people in similar situations and understand it can take years of rehabilitation. The future is unknown but we will continue to work towards his goal of full recovery.