Walking again after life-changing aneurysm: Brian’s journey to living independently again

July 26, 2023

At Askham Rehab, we are very happy to find the same level of determination in our patients as in our rehab team. This week we are proud to share Brian’s rehab journey, who is well on track to independent living after he was told by doctors that he may never walk again following surgery. His determination surpassed the expectations of our rehab team.


After suffering an abdominal aortic aneurysm, Brian was left with no movement in his left leg and limited movement in his right. Being a former judo instructor, he was used to pushing his body to the limit and managed to use this in his favour: his ambition guided him a lot in his journey towards walking independently again.

In a matter of months, our rehab team helped him to get back on his feet again even though this rehabilitation journey has tested his physical and mental guise to the limit.


Keep reading to find out more about his tremendous story:

Brian’s story

63-year-old former heating engineer from Norfolk, Brian Walker suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm in November 2021 which caused immense swelling in both legs, being admitted him to theatre for emergency surgery. Even though after the surgery he was told by doctors that he may never walk again, Brian did not lose his hope. 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 our team and our specialist rehabilitation services, he was able to stand with the support of a frame within just a matter of months.


Mental health support offered throughout his journey

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.

The road to living independently again

Soon after his aneurysm, Biran 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.

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.

Commenting on his journey, 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.”

Using advanced robotics, including the Omego

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 Rehab is part of Askham Village Community, 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.

Surpassing the expectations of the rehab team

Commenting on the progress made by Brian, Sara Neaves, our Clinical Lead and Outpatients Service Manager, 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.”

As he himself says, Brian truly enjoyed the time spent at Askham, especially the motivation he received throughout his journey. He also pointed out how much he liked the good laughs he had with the team during the sessions and which had a positive impact on his overall progress: “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!”

Thinking about the next steps of this incredible story, Sara truly believes that Brian’s dream of living independently is going to be achieved some day: “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.”


If you are interested to see another successful that is focussed on regaining independence, check out Isabel’s rehab journey here.

If you are interested to see all the other successful stories we were part of, please check our page. Alternatively, you can have a look at our YouTube channel.

Don’t forget that we are always welcoming new residents and staff into our growing community. For further information, please contact 01354 740269.

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