Two years ago, at the age of 27 years, Wouter underwent surgery in Brisbane to remove an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). There were complications and he had to endure multiple surgeries to replace a part of his skull. Wouter was left with considerable left sided weakness, affecting both his upper and lower limb. This left sided weakness impacted significantly on Wouter’s functional independence and made it extremely difficult to complete everyday tasks, like pulling the shower curtain closed to have a shower. Wouter participated in outpatient rehabilitation in Brisbane and worked hard to achieve several of his goals, including getting back to work managing a team of engineers, and walking down the aisle at his wedding unaided. Despite these gains, Wouter’s upper limb had not achieved the same level of recovery and he was not using his arm or hand functionally in everyday tasks.
Fast forward 2 years…. Wouter heard about Hands Up! the Intensive Upper Limb Bootcamp offered at Advance Rehab Centre (ARC) in Sydney. He made the decision to have a serious go at getting his hand and arm working again. During the initial assessment, conducted via telehealth, Wouter outlined a number of the “usual” OT goals around increasing shoulder strength and movement to completed everyday tasks (e.g. being able to close the fridge door, pressing the control key on a keyboard). But it was his goal of being able to nurse a baby that was most important to him as he and his wife were wanting to start a family.
Wouter travelled to Sydney in August 2016, to participate in the Hands UP! Upper Limb Bootcamp two week intensive program at ARC. Wouter worked extremely hard during his two weeks at ARC, giving 100% during his therapy sessions, supervised practise and homework tasks – completing up to 4 hours of task specific practise a day. As a result of his hard work, determination (and thousands of repetitions), Wouter achieved all of his goals. At the end of the Hands Up! he was able to use a computer key board effectively, use his arm to close the fridge door, open/close a door, reach for cupboards up high to close them and stabilize his jumpers or bags to manipulate the zipper. An amazing feat.
Wouter is an inspiration, and a true testament that hard work really does pay off. Best of all, he is now able to pick up a baby doll from the bed, hold it confidently, and even pass the baby doll to his wife. We wish him every success with his growing family!