When John retired he had looked forward to having a lot of time for his passion: fishing with his friends in truly remarkable places. Unfortunately, in 2012 John’s illness and consequent brain injury thwarted his plans. The damage to his brain and both inner ears not only caused the hearing loss but also seriously affected John’s balance. Being stable and safe on his feet became a real challenge on dry land, not to mention getting on the boat, casting when scanning the water or netting the big fish. What was obvious to clinicians understanding vestibular problems was not at that point in time obvious to John. In 2013 unaware of troubles coming John headed to vibrant Cuba for his dream fishing trip, which turned to a bitter and disheartening experience. After being carried out off the boat by his friends on a day one he then spent all of his holidays in nearby bar watching them disappearing on the horizon.
John decides to give it another shot!
John left his passion for another 4 years until he approached SP Therapy Services in August 2017 with his SMART goal: Fishing trip to Canada; flying out on the 22nd of September, with his retired friends. For John this meant 6 weeks to go and no volunteers to carry him anymore? One might think the goal was Specific, Measurable and Timed, but was it Achievable or Realistic?
It was certainly an exciting challenge for John and Anna Ziemer, his Physiotherapist. The challenge, which allowed us to test the in-house balance assessment tool pining down the significance of functional change and John’s subjective feeling about his balance abilities. The challenge, which tested our knowledge and experience in vestibular rehabilitation to the limits. Anna’s professional courage to use clinical experience and expertise in balance and vestibular rehabilitation gained across the complex neurological patients in light of very poor evidence in dealing with bilateral vestibular-hypofunction paid off. John’s dedication to his physiotherapy and daily trips to Bury for 4 weeks, his hard work in sessions and determination to test newly acquired skills out of them were also our key to success.
What did we do?
Over those weeks filled in with intensive practice, we did not repair John’s inner ears, but we gave him back the functional balance, allowing him to get through the Atlantic without a wobble, to board the vessel every day and catch fishes sometimes bigger than him! And clinically… yes we achieved his SMART and physio-therapeutic short term goals, we busted his Berg Balance Scale and Clinical Test of Sensory Organization and Balance to nearly normal and grew the confidence up more than twice in ABC Scale. But what is most important we gave him multiple tools to carry on with his passion in context of his disability, let’s hope for many trips ahead. Well with monthly reviews to keep an eye on John and exchange some good recipes for rainbow trout dishes.