At Askham Rehab, we’re delighted to share a success story that has seen Joshua, one of our residents, enjoy significant improvements in our private speech and language therapy programme.
Joshua, a 26-year-old radio presenter from Huntingdon, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour at just two years old. This subsequently affected his central nervous system and, as a result, he became a wheelchair user from the age of 12. As his condition progressed throughout his adolescence, his passion for radio grew – and he proceeded to work as a presenter on his university’s radio station, in addition to other local broadcast roles.
However, after becoming a radio presenter for a local community station in 2011, Joshua’s tumour caused respiratory complications – and consequently, he had to step away from presenting and move into a producing role. This, however, was short-lived; in 2018, Joshua caught pneumonia – which left him needing six months of intensive care.
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, Joshua had to ‘shield’ at home – so entering a rehabilitation setting wasn’t feasible at this time. However, in September 2021, he got in touch with our rehabilitation team, and was finally able to access a programme that could offer him the care he required.
Private Speech and Language Therapy: Josh’s Rehabilitation Journey
Upon entering our rehabilitation centre, Joshua found it challenging to talk at length and articulate words, due to becoming breathless. Additionally, he was only able to sit independently outside the constraints of his wheelchair for a short period of time before needing assistance.
Sara, our clinical lead and outpatients service manager at Askham Rehab, said: “When Josh arrived at Askham, his condition was quite severe, having had issues with taking deep breaths, which affected his ability to speak, and decreased exercise tolerance – all caused by the tumour that impacts the messages from the brain to the spinal cord and then the nerves that innovate all the body’s muscles.
“He was assessed by all four of our multidisciplinary teams; clinical psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy, before working with them to design an individualised and holistic therapy programme.”
Joshua’s treatment has included several oral motor exercises to help improve his breathing and ability to swallow. Due to Joshua’s sheer determination, it wasn’t long before he could enjoy tasting food for the first time in four years – having been exclusively fed through a tube into his stomach.
The prolonged time spent in intensive care had caused Josh to suffer with global deconditioning – a rapid deterioration of the muscles, bones, and mental state due to being bed bound. Joshua made use of our robotics and sensor assisted technology – including the AMADEO, a sensor-based device for hand therapy. This was used to help work on his left arm, which had been stuck at an almost 90-degree angle due to his neurological condition.
Private Speech and Language Therapy: Josh’s Recovery
Slowly, but surely, our speech and language breathing techniques helped Joshua regain and increase the power of his voice – a moment Joshua describes as “absolutely fantastic”.
After almost four months of private speech and language therapy and person-centred care, Joshua returned to the airwaves for the first time in over four years. In a brave and powerful interview, he shared his story on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to thousands of listeners.
Josh said: “I’ve always been passionate about radio so having to step away from presenting due to my condition was extremely hard to accept, but the rehab I’ve received at Askham has allowed me to regain my voice and enabled me to achieve my pursuit of getting back on the radio.
“It’s been a long journey, and not always an easy one, so my long-awaited return to live radio was a special moment, and quite overwhelming actually. It has played such a huge part of my life – through both the good and not so good times. I can’t thank the station enough for having me on.”
Summarising his experience at our rehabilitation centre, Joshua said: “Overall, I’ve made progress in all areas of my rehab. I can now talk longer and for louder thanks to the therapists, which has given me a newfound confidence. The position I was in two to three years ago to where I am now is just a huge difference, both physically and mentally. It just shows that hard work can pay off.”
Sara added: “After several unsuccessful attempts at rehab, Josh came to us with the hope of being able to project his voice and be heard, so this has been a huge achievement for him. In fact, he’s done incredibly well and much better than people initially anticipated due to the fact he was so deconditioned on arrival.
“In addition to improving his speech, his left arm is now just off full extension, and he can sit independently for almost five minutes – this drastic improvement is down to the hard work Josh has put in and we’re delighted to see such significant improvements to his quality of life.
“Getting back on the radio was always a key milestone for Josh and while we played our part in helping him achieve that goal, it’s completely down to his extraordinary willpower. This is hopefully just the start of the next chapter of Josh’s incredible journey.”
At Askham, we’re always welcoming new residents and staff into our growing community. For further information, please contact 01354 740269.