Connect with us
  • Elysium

Inpatient rehab

‘Rehab helped me rebuild my life’

Former Judo instructor Brian is being supported by Askham Rehab in regaining his independence



A man who was left with no movement in his left leg and limited movement in his right following a life-changing aneurysm is well on track to independent living after he was told by doctors that he may never walk again following surgery — a rehabilitation journey that has tested his physical and mental guise to the limit.

Brian Walker, a 63-year-old former heating engineer from Norfolk, experienced an abdominal aortic aneurysm in November 2021 which caused immense swelling in both legs and admitted him to theatre for emergency surgery.

As a former Judo instructor, Brian was used to pushing his body to the limit, yet a year ago, his life was turned upside down.

The first step was to get Brian back on his feet again and against all odds, and thanks to the specialist rehabilitation services of Askham Rehab, he was able to stand with the support of a frame within just a matter of months.

Brian arrived at Askham in February 2022 with a sense of determination that matched that of his care team to overcome the seemingly impossible task of regaining his ability to live independently. Through a combination of specialist physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and mental health support, Brian started making progress far sooner than anyone anticipated.

One of the biggest hurdles in Brian’s journey was the anxiety induced by his situation — which was only heightened due to family bereavement at the time. Despite this, he never lost hope and thanks to the specialist mental health services available, he was able to persevere and see that there was light at the end of the tunnel. 

Soon after his aneurysm, Brian was unable to carry out the simplest of domestic tasks and relied heavily on a hoist to help him. Thanks to the specialist rehabilitation he received, he was soon able to cook, garden and move around independently with the assistance of a walking frame — something that symbolised a changing of the tide in his journey to recovery.

With a strict rehabilitation structure and the encouragement to act independently, Brian and his care team are now confident he will soon be able to live independently.

Brian said: “I didn’t know which way to turn when I was met with the news that I might never walk again. There is nothing more alarming than the prospect of not being able to be independent and I think that’s what has motivated me on this journey.

“I have always been a resilient character, yet this has been the biggest challenge of my life. Mentally, it has been exhausting and I have been met with an immense amount of anxiety. I feel like this is something that is often forgotten about in rehabilitation, yet the effect it has on your emotional wellbeing is massive.

“Thankfully, Askham has built its services around me, and the mental health support has been just as valuable as the physical treatment I have received.”

Throughout his time at Askham, Brian engaged with advanced robotics including the Omego lower limb trainer for strength and endurance. He also took part in gait re-education through hydrotherapy and parallel bars — as well as plinth strengthening with weights and resistance bands.

Askham Village is a family-run community with a rehabilitation service that has transformed the lives of many individuals, and its remote setting and person-centred approach is the perfect place to approach any personal challenge — big or small.

With the latest robotic equipment and state-of-the-art gym and hydrotherapy equipment, it is leading the way in the local area for rehabilitation services — which, in Brian’s case, have restored his hopes of independence.

Sara Neaves, clinical lead and outpatients service manager at Askham Rehab, said: “When Brian first came to us in February, it was clear he was a determined and quick-witted man. Our relationship with him has blossomed and he has thrown himself wholeheartedly into his treatments. This has been evidenced by the immense progress he has made, which has far surpassed the expectations of us, the clinicians involved in his case and Brian himself.

“He is an absolute pleasure to be around and has integrated into the Askham community effortlessly. Community is what it’s all about here and there is a sense of togetherness for every case that comes through our doors. When you suffer a life changing condition or injury, it is easy to lose hope, and this is one thing Brian never did.”

Brian said: “My carers have been amazing with me, and nothing has been too much trouble. They have kept me motivated since the day I arrived, and I am truly grateful for this. We have such a good laugh and growing up in a rugby environment, I didn’t think they would be able to keep up with my humour — but how I was wrong!”

Sara added: “He is now walking independently and engaging in everyday domestic activities. We are in no doubt that Brian will achieve his dream of living independently and to be part of his journey is a real privilege.”

Askham is always welcoming new residents and staff into its growing community. For further information, contact 01354 740269 or visit