Justin’s Journey: Spinal Cord Injury Treatment at Askham

At Askham Rehab, we’re passionate about providing professional physiotherapy in Cambridgeshire. This week, we’re delighted to share Herbert’s journey in anticipation of Father’s Day.


A Royal Air Force veteran of 12 years, 85-year-old Herbert’s inspiring past saw him deploy to Cyprus, Australia, Pakistan and Singapore throughout his career.

On New Years’ Eve 2020, Herbert unexpectedly suffered a fall – and, subsequently, a subarachnoid haemorrhage that caused a bleed between his brain and skull.

In the weeks and months following his collapse, Herbert has endured testing hurdles throughout his care journey – but thanks to the unwavering support of his son, he managed to overcome them and is continuing to make a remarkable recovery.

The severity of his injury left Herbert extremely fatigued and resulted in muscle weakness that restricted his mobility.

His extraordinary response to treatment from our multidisciplinary team of therapists, combined with the inspiring support from his son and two grandchildren, means that Herbert is almost ready to return to his home in Littleport.

Sara Neaves, our Clinical Lead and Outpatients Service Manager, said: “When Herbert first came to us, he was incredibly weak. This made any initial progress extremely challenging. He was assessed by our teams of clinical psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists, before SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) goals were set to aid his recovery.

“To begin getting Herbert back on his feet, we began to build his strength and stamina up through various therapy exercises and activities, such as baking and cooking. Eventually, he progressed enough to be able to use our hydrotherapy pool where he could benefit from the many qualities of exercising in water. In a short space of time, he was then able to push himself further in our state-of-the-art robotic suite, where he used Tyromotion’s MYRO table, a sensor-based surface with interactive applications, to work on his standing balance and weight transference, whilst challenging his upper limb coordination. He also used the OMEGO Plus, a multifunctional chair enabling specific training of functional therapy goals, to build on his range of movement and strength.”

To everyone’s delight, Herbert surpassed everyone’s expectations during his rehabilitation, maintaining an outstanding level of engagement throughout his therapy sessions. One key driver for this was the support of his son, who motivated him every day throughout his stay at Askham and played an integral role in his father’s recovery.

His encouragement enabled Herbert to push himself to perform functional tasks and overcome challenges to slowly regain his independence. Herbert went from standing at a work surface to standing with parallel bars, and finally taking independent steps with a rollator walking frame, which he was determined to achieve.

Sara continued: “Herbert’s main goal is to get back home. To facilitate this, our occupational therapy team completed a home assessment where they made adaptations to enable him to be as fully independent as possible. Today, he can now mobilise completely independently with a rollator. It was only a few months ago we feared informing his son that he wouldn’t be able to return home, so to see Herbert now at a point where he can live a completely independent and happy life is nothing short of amazing.

“His remarkable progress is also due to the wonderful relationship he has with his son. The bond they have is really special and has been monumental in Herbert overcoming so many testing hurdles. It enabled him to maintain motivation to progress whilst allowing us to establish an effective working relationship with his family, which has allowed us to facilitate Herbert as coherently and effectively as possible.”

Herbert said: “I have a lovely relationship with my son, Paul. Every night we talk to each other without fail, and he looked after my bungalow whilst I was having rehabilitation. The Askham Rehab team was excellent. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, and I can’t thank them enough.”

Aliyyah, our Director, said: “Our ethos is all about maintaining a person-centred approach. We put the patient at the core of our practices and empower them with the tools to oversee their journey with us their own way. We’re delighted Herbert has reached a stage where he can almost return home and live independently.”