Jamal’s rehabilitation success story

Two years ago, 55-year-old Jamal was driving back from Canberra with his boss when he was involved in a serious car accident. Jamal’s injuries were significant, and he experienced a stroke when his C4 to C6 vertebrae crushed an artery to his brain. After an overnight stay in Canberra Hospital, Jamal was moved to Royal North Shore Hospital where he remained for two months, followed by a further three months in the spinal unit at Prince of Wales Hospital.

Jamal’s wife, Amal, says it was an incredibly stressful time for their family, but Jamal was determined to do everything he could to get better, always asking for more hours of therapy. No stranger to hard work and training, Jamal was extremely fit having played professional soccer for his hometown in Syria before emigrating to Australia 20 years ago. Since then, Jamal had played in a local community competition and was passionate about watching and supporting his three soccer-playing sons who love the game as much as he does.

Following his discharge from hospital, Jamal initially received home-based private physiotherapy and occupational therapy. He was supported by Royal Rehab’s Spinal Outreach Service for nursing advice regarding continence management and occupational therapy. In June 2021 Jamal’s occupational therapist recommended an intensive therapy program, following which Jamal started working with Royal Rehab LifeWorks’ occupational therapist, Jessica Beauman, to focus on improving his upper limb strength, co-ordination, and functional re-training. “At first Jamal’s goals centred around being more involved in feeding, self-care, and improving cognition,” says Jessica. 

“He was unable to hold onto or dispense his medication, additionally he was unable to recall when medications were due. 

“He also wanted to improve his ability to complete daily living tasks such as making a cup of coffee for himself and carrying it to the couch without help,” she adds. 

Jamal’s therapy incorporated cutting-edge technology 

devices. The Tyromotion Suite played a pivotal role in enhancing his strength, range of motion, and coordination. Additionally, the Amadeo was instrumental in improving finger strength and fine motor coordination, particularly in relation to the pincer grasp. The Pablo hand sensor, in conjunction with pressure exerted through the Myro system, facilitated the refinement of Jamal’s grasp maintenance and control.

Jessica comments, “Jamal can now confidently handle 1.5kg weights during shoulder exercises and navigate an obstacle course while holding and transporting a cup of coffee. 

“He is also able to self-administer his medication punctually with the aid of an alarm, and skilfully manages his catheter for toileting. These are all accomplishments he couldn’t have imagined when he began his journey at Royal Rehab LifeWorks,” she adds.

Amal agrees that her husband has been making good progress. “Jessica’s done wonders with Jamal,” she says. 

Eager to build upon his progress, Jamal was motivated to improve his walking ability, with aspirations to rejoin his boys in soccer games and to even play soccer himself. After receiving approval from icare to include physiotherapy at Royal Rehab LifeWorks in his program, Jamal’s physiotherapy sessions were tailored to enhance his walking technique and balance. They began by using advanced technology devices, starting with the EksoNR robotic exoskeleton to provide feedback on his walking pattern and break down the components needed for outdoor walking.

Always striving to improve, Jamal progressed quickly and moved on to using the Zero G body weight system to help him with the advanced balance skills required for walking and running. He also used the C-Mill treadmill which has bodyweight support and virtual reality and augmented reality to simulate everyday activities using engaging games. This enabled Jamal to practice his balance and walking in a safe environment. 

A favourite C-Mill game for Jamal was a soccer-based game. He embraced the competitive aspect of the game, which motivated him to consistently improve his scores during each play session. As a result, he has significantly refined his walking stride and can now even jog within the Advanced Technology Centre. Assessments of his walking speed, stamina, and overall dynamic balance clearly indicate his continued progress, as he now walks both faster and covers greater distances compared to his previous achievements.

For Jessica, there are multiple benefits associated with integrating advanced technology into therapy programs.

“One advantage of the devices,” says Jessica, “is that they can be used to address cognition and physical therapy simultaneously. 

“The advanced technology provides more engagement and variety, and clients can do more in a session, as their fatigue is managed using the device weight support systems as they begin to tire, allowing them to complete a higher number of repetitions required for motor recovery. 

“The adaptability of the different devices and the range we have available allows us to offer therapy to clients of any functional ability.”

A big win for Jamal earlier in the year was being able to go on a beach holiday with his extended family. Jamal walked on the sand, played volleyball with his family, and went fishing. 

Jamal is now translating what he did in therapy into everyday life. He is proud of his achievements saying, “I need to show people what you can achieve through hard work.”

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Jamal’s rehabilitation success story