Dominick’s Story

24 year old Dominick couldn't move the right side of his body, walk or talk following a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) which resulted in a stroke...but following two programmes of intensive rehab, he's now climbing mountains, visiting festivals and planning to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu...
“I thought I was too young to have a stroke at the age of 24! When people think of strokes they generally think of older people.
It was important to me that I understood exactly what was happening to my body and I made sure that I spent my time while I was laid up wisely, finding out about all the alternative therapies that were available.
The concept of neuroplasticity and the body’s ability to ‘rewire’ totally fascinated me and I started looking into intensive rehab approaches as this seemed to be the key to making the best recovery.
Finding a clinic which had the technology and facilities to allow me to practice thousands of repetitions of arm and leg movements, right on my doorstep on the Wirral, was too good to be true! Following two programmes of intensive rehab and one-to-one physio, I’m now walking unaided and my upper body strength and mobility is improving every day!”

Background

Dominick was a typical fit and healthy 24 year-old from Wallasey on the Wirral who loved going to the gym and worked as a mechanical fitter at Jaguar Land Rover in Hailwood, Liverpool.

He was in the process of renovating his first home with his girlfriend in the summer of 2021 when he started to experience mood swings, with regular feelings of sadness and anger but put it down to the stress of buying his first home.

In August 2021 Dom woke up one morning and noticed that his right side was numb, and he was slurring his speech. He was rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with a brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) which had resulted in a stroke.

Dom’s Condition

An AVM occurs when the arteries which take oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain become weak or thin and can rupture and result in a bleed into the brain. AVMs can develop anywhere in the body, but brain AVMs are considered rare, affecting 1% of the population. The cause of them isn’t totally clear but it is thought that in Dom’s case, he may have been born with the malformation.

Dom had a complex 9-hour operation to remove the AVM at Liverpool’s specialist hospital, The Walton Centre. He woke up in hospital a week later and realised that the left side of his brain had been affected by the stroke which meant that he was unable to use the right side of his body. He couldn’t walk or move his right arm and he was also diagnosed with verbal dysarthria and non-fluent aphasia which meant that he struggled to retrieve and pronounce some words.

Incredibly, two weeks after surgery he realised he could sing Frank Sinatra’s ‘fly me to the moon’ perfectly, as the part of the brain that controls music and singing had not been damaged.

Dom spent four months in hospital, spending an hour a day doing physiotherapy. Once he was discharged from hospital, his outpatient physio, John mentioned The Rehab Physio on the Wirral and their intensive rehabilitation approach. Dom had a real interest in his condition and had spent hours while he was laid up researching the various treatment options. He was particularly interested in the concept of neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to rewire itself to create new neural pathways following injury or damage. He realised that in order to maximise his recovery potential, he needed to take his physiotherapy to the next level and access a facility where he would have the opportunity to do thousands of repetitions to enable neuroplasticity to occur.

Treatment

Fortunately, Dom’s employer, Jaguar Land Rover, and his friends and colleagues raised sufficient funds to allows Dom to investigate The Rehab Physio’s intensive rehab programme.

Dom was assessed at the specialist neurological physiotherapy and rehabilitation centre and opted for the 80-hour intensive rehab programme, which he attended over 7 weeks, for 4 hours a day for 3 days a week.

His main goal was to work on his upper limb movement and strength using The Rehab Physio’s robotics equipment, particularly AMADEO for finger and hand rehabilitation and PABLO which uses sensors to measure the strength of function and active range of motion to ensure targeted repetitive therapy.

Dom also worked on his lower limb mobility with the help of The Rehab Physio’s LiteGait equipment which is an overhead frame and suspension system. This allowed him to partial weight bear so that he could use his legs again and trigger his nervous system to remember the rhythm and routine of walking. The equipment allowed Dom to see which aspects of his walking were improving but also identify any areas for improvement such as step length and the time spent on each leg.

Dom decided that he would benefit from a 2nd programme of intensive therapy at The Rehab Physio a few months later and was fortunate to secure more funding from Jaguar Land Rover to continue his treatment.

Dom has been complementing his neurological physio with speech and language therapy, organised by The Brain Charity.

Where is he now?

Dom can now walk unaided, and his upper body mobility and strength have improved well beyond his original expectations. He is driving and is back at his second home, the gym!

He’s already climbed to the top of Moel Famau, a mountain in North Wales and has now set his sights on Snowdon. He’s also visited the La Tomatina tomato-throwing festival in Spain with some friends….but he’s not stopping there.

His next big challenge is to take on the Inca Trail route to Machu Picchu, a 3-5 day hike which isn’t for the faint hearted.

He is keen to share and educate other stroke sufferers on the benefits of intensive rehabilitation and speech therapy and is actively involved with a number of charities, talking at events and featuring in online videos and articles.

Find out more about out intensive rehabibilitation treatment, tailored programmes and residential options.

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