Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Sharyn and Jim's Story. Sharyn and Jim are an incredible husband and wife team who have wowed our therapy team with their determination, commitment, and attitude. Sharyn's rehab journey has been incredibly challenging, with many hurdles along the way. Her recovery has been prolonged, as these things can be, but they have never given up. This story shows us that you can achieve and evolve in challenging circumstances if you have the right support around you. It started with a fall. Sharyn: Hi, my name is Sharyn. I was diagnosed with MS in 2014. My symptoms were numbness of the legs and unbalanced walking. We went to ARC for a six-week group therapy program and had a break, during which my first neurologist stopped my medications. My MS declined, and I had a fall through being unbalanced. I injured my meniscus in my right knee, which landed me in hospital. I was told to immobilise after getting home within three months. Not only did I have MS, but I also had contracture to both legs, which made it impossible to walk at all. We found ourselves back at ARC, not knowing what to do. Therapy at ARC Fortunately, our therapy team started working again with Sharyn in February 2018. However, unfortunately, Sharyn presented with a devastating reduction in her mobility and functionality. Sharyn was fully chair bound, relying on the maximal assistance of her husband for all transfers. Jim was lifting Sharyn single-handedly, and as a result of Sharyn dependence on him, Jim was forced to quit work. With a spell of therapy at home, Sharyn and Jim were able to master using a slide board which reduced the physical strain on Jim. However, it wasn't enough to get Sharyn to where she wanted to be and reach her potential. NDIS Funding During this time, we were all working away in the background to have Sharyn's funding and supports reviewed by the NDIS. She had significant equipment and rehabilitation needs due to her change in function, and thankfully Sharyn was able to secure more supports to get her where she is today. We were now supported by funding, and it was time to hit this hard! Sourcing Equipment We all felt that Sharyn needed to come to ARC to access the equipment necessary to get her on her feet as a team. ARC clinic physiotherapist Anna Wallwork examined her impairments closely. Sharyn had developed severe spasticity in her hamstrings, meaning she could not bear any weight through her legs at all. In addition, Sharyn could not gain full range of movement at her hips and knees, concerning Anna that there may be some contracture development. Because of her inability to weight bear effectively, even using rehab equipment like the theratrainer, Anna contacted her GP to make an urgent request to see a Neurologist explore aggressive and targeted spasticity management. Further Treatment Over the next three months, Sharyn received two courses of botulinum toxin injections, the first of which was incredibly effective. Anna measured her spasticity before and after every course of injections, ensuring that the effect was documented. She continues to have botulinum toxin injections every three months up until this day. The muscle relaxants were working well, and Jim, Sharyn and Anna were dedicated to improving Sharyn's situation. Sharyn was following an aggressive program of stretching, standing and transfer practice. Anna successfully got funding from the NDIS for a standing frame, so Sharyn could practice this daily, instead of just when she came to ARC. In addition, she needed significant strength work on her quads and glutes, which had not been active for a very long time due to her immobility and leg positioning caused by her spasticity. Guided by Anna, most of the hard work was done by the unbeatable team of Sharyn and Jim at home through their home exercise program. Sharyn: My motivation for all this was to be able to walk again – no matter how good or not so good it may be – and not to end up bedridden. A big part of my success is my husband (Jim), my physiotherapists (Anna and Amali) and my EP (Lisa). It is a complex and slow journey, but I must take as far as I can to be as independent as possible. I DIDN'T WANT MS TO WIN. I MUST KEEP MOVING. Continued Recovery It was about ten months later when ARC physio Amali took over Sharyn's rehabilitation. From the start, Amali was so impressed at how Sharyn made sure she made the most out of each Botulinum Toxin injection and with the increasing joint range and normalisation of muscle tone came strength in the opposing muscle groups. As the muscle strength began to increase, Sharyn started to spend longer durations standing with easing supports. The theratrainer allowed Amali to reduce the external stabilisation, demanding Sharyn's anti-gravity strength and balance mechanisms. As soon as Sharyn could stand in the parallel bars, she started working on stepping practice to get her back walking and continued to reduce the supports required for walking. She went from initially needing a forearm support frame, progressing on to a two-wheel walking frame then a pair of crutches. It hasn't been easy Both Jim and Sharyn dedicated all their time, determination and energy to get to where they are now. Fatigue and heat sensitivity have limited Sharyn's exercise capacity at times, but she has learned ways to manage these. In fact, her current fatigue measurements are better than what was reported even before her fall! ARC EP Lisa Meng works with Sharyn and Jim at their home to monitor and progress a home exercise program. Jim completes exercises with Sharyn every day for approximately 2 hrs, and Lisa often asks them to cut back! Achieving her goals Sharyn is now mobile at home using her crutches and uses a wheelchair outdoors. She can climb 16 steps with a rail and stand by assistance only. Jim once said, "I used to help Sharyn get to where she wants to be, and I know that when I come back, she'll be right where I left her. Now, Sharyn pops up everywhere around the house!". Sharyn's son recently moved out, and recently, she was able to walk into his house independently with her frame. One of her next goals is to access her swimming pool safely…and she has plenty of others!