Justin’s Journey: Spinal Cord Injury Treatment at Askham

At Askham Rehab, our team is proud to deliver specialist spinal cord injury treatment to those that require it.


In this article, we’re delighted to share the progress of a patient’s rehab journey to mark Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day.

Justin Urquhart, a 59-year-old from King’s Lynn, joined us for rehabilitation following degeneration injuries in his neck and lower spine. In 2020, his injuries developed into an infection, which severely hampered his mobility.

In addition to cervical spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the neck area of the upper spine, subsequently putting pressure on spinal nerves), Justin suffered discitis in the two lowest vertebrae of his lumbar spine (L4 and L5). The inflammation between the intervertebral discs led to the bacterial infection that caused Justin’s loss of mobility.

After a period of time at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, where he received immediate medical attention, Justin was admitted to our rehabilitation centre in December to begin his recovery. As part of the process, Justin was assessed by our multidisciplinary teams; clinical psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy. He then worked alongside our team to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) goals to aid his spinal cord injury treatment programme.

Sara, our clinical lead and outpatients service manager, said: “When Justin came to us, he was very limited in what he could do. He spent a lot of time in bed due to fatigue and muscle atrophy. The lack of strength in his four limbs required us to think outside the box in terms of what we could do with his therapy. Justin also had a sensory deficit, being unaware of light touch and proprioception.”

To combat these challenges, Justin’s therapy had a specific focus on regaining muscle strength and range of movement through the use of our hydrotherapy pool and state-of-the-art robotic suite. In particular, Justin made use of Tyromotion’s PABLO, a sensor-based device for unilateral and bilateral training, which focused on building movement and coordination in his upper limbs.

We are thrilled that Justin’s progress has drastically improved during his treatment; after plenty of hard work and dedication, he is now able to weight-bear transfer and take steps with assistance.

Sara continued: “Justin’s attitude to therapy and rehabilitation has been incredible. He’s always motivated. Being fiercely independent before his injury, he has really challenged himself in every therapy session and as a result, is now able to weight-bear transfer, be safer on his feet, and aware of where his legs are. The improvements have been really encouraging. While there is still a long way to go, we’re confident that there are still sufficient gains to be made.

“One of his long-term goals was to be able to take steps again. This has been achieved much quicker than we originally expected, and we believe this is due to the advanced technological facilities we have here at Askham Rehab, and the approach we implement towards rehabilitation. We’re excited for him to fulfil his ultimate goal of going home and being independent.

A keen music enthusiast, particularly of Shirley Bassey, Justin has been “blown away” by his experience with us, very kindly describing our home as a “very special place”:

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Askham. Whether it’s been the carers, the nurses or the maintenance staff, everyone has been just fabulous,” he said.

“The whole concept of Askham Rehab has been second-to-none. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was able to start motivating myself to get my limbs moving again. Suddenly, my brain started to wake up and kicked me into action and that was when I found myself beginning to think that I wasn’t completely useless. I quickly began to feel so much better. My nerves, muscles and body were beginning to move and that’s all thanks to the wonderful therapy team.”

“Overall, I feel I’ve accomplished a great number of my goals that I originally didn’t think were accomplishable.”

Aliyyah, our director, said: “With 10 years of neurological rehabilitation expertise, we’re able to offer a quantitative and targeted approach to treatment, as well as greater discretion when targeting key areas following neurological events.

“Justin’s journey encompasses what Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day is all about; highlighting the strategies to improve the quality of life for persons living with spinal injuries and their families.”

If you’d like to find out more about our spinal cord injury treatment, or if you’d like to enquire about our rehabilitation services, take a look at our website or contact a member of our team.

At Askham Rehab, we’re always welcoming new residents and staff into our growing family. For further information, please contact 01354 740269. Alternatively, if you’d like to join our growing team, find out how you can apply for a role at Askham Rehabilitation via our careers page.