Lee on road to recovery
A Dudley man is exercising his brain back to near full capacity after a serious car accident left him almost completely paralysed down the right hand side of his body.
Lee Isherwood (age 29) couldn’t remember who he was after hitting a parked car on Burton Road, whilst under the influence of alcohol. He was flung out on impact and in a coma for three weeks – but he’s battling back to fitness and now walking again after regular rehabilitation workouts at Sandwell Leisure Trust facility, Portway Lifestyle Centre on Newbury Road in Oldbury.*
Lee explains: "My weekly visits to Portway have become an essential part of my recovery and I absolutely love it. It’s been a really tough year, with lots of highs and lows, but week in, week out I see minor improvements. To start with I only had partial use of my right arm on that side, but the leg is stronger now too and I can walk on my own and my coordination and range of mobility is much better, plus I’m slowly getting my old confidence back.
"Whilst the doctors didn’t quite say I’d never walk again, because my head trauma was so severe they said it was all down to me and I’d have to re-teach my brain to function. The hydrotherapy pool at Portway got me moving again, but I wanted more, so it was onto the treadmill for my first few steps and now I’m doing step up and down exercises on the plate, basic weight lifts, roll outs and squats, etc, to improve my balance and core strength.
"I wouldn’t wish what I’ve gone through on my worst enemy, but it’s my own fault for drinking and I’m trying to raise as much awareness as possible It's just not worth the risk and puts others in danger too. I had two passengers in the car, but they walked away unharmed and I’m so glad that it was just me that got hurt. Apart from being grateful to be alive I’m so motivated to get well, as my three kids (two daughters now aged 7 and 3 plus a son aged 5) have lost out on so much and I’m putting myself through the pain barrier for them as much as me.
"The doctors reckon I’ll only get back about 80% of my total mobility, but I’m determined to prove them wrong. I hope to be able to drive again one day, get back to my former tarmacing job, as my old boss is keeping it open for me, and be able to play with the kids like any Dad would.”
Sandwell Leisure Trust instructor Natasha Jackson (age 24 and also from Dudley) says: "Lee’s physio referred him to us for our hydrotherapy pool initially, as he couldn’t stand, but he made quick progress and was soon able to support himself with a stick. So we came up with some bespoke functional programmes to improve his overall fitness, help him lose over two stone in weight, and then specifically improve his balance, coordination and strength.
"I reckon he’s about 60% on his road to recovery, so there’s still a lot of hard work to be done, but if anyone can do it, it’s Lee. He just shows how much you can overcome with a bit of self belief and willpower. He’s been limited to just one session a week so far, because he relies on his carer for transport, but he’s looking at coming for extra sessions on his own and on the bus, which will speed up his rehabilitation even more.”
Lee’s mum Teresa Isherwood (age 48) adds: "I remember the accident like it was yesterday, as it was on Mother’s Day and felt like the worst present ever. Those first few weeks in intensive care were really awful, but as soon as he came out of the coma he was really determined – starting with getting out of his wheelchair as soon as possible and then progressing from the hydrotherapy pool to the gym. The extra functional training he puts in at Portway is his own choice and he gets so much from it.
"He’s surprised both me and himself - and everyone involved says his progress has been quite remarkable. I’m very proud of him and his determination to be independent and look after himself again. We’ve all missed out on the real Lee – especially my grandchildren - but slowly but surely he’s getting back to normal and we can see light at the end of the tunnel.”
*Whilst the new and improved gym at Portway is a favourite with the general public, it’s also a centre of excellence for people with disabilities and one of the few ‘Excellent’ accredited Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) facilities in the Midlands. By complying with the 'IFI Mark' standards Portway Lifestyle Centre publicly delivers on its commitment to quality of service to disabled customers, plus inclusion and equality for all members to participate. The IFI Mark is fundamental in addressing inequality in physical activity; reaching inactive populations and raising awareness of the benefits of exercise, as well as creating demand.