We’re celebrating the Captain Tom 100 Challenge this weekend, asking Livability’s nurses and clinicians about their work and what Captain Tom meant to them. Physiotherapist Alex Elmon, from Livability’s rehabilitation centre Icanho, is in the spotlight today.
I’m a physiotherapist at Livability Icanho, our acquired brain injury rehabilitation centre in
Suffolk. I’ve worked at Icanho for several periods in my career, and returned last October as
specialist lead physiotherapist. We work with people who have acquired brain injuries such as
strokes or traumatic injuries, and we enable people to regain as much independence as
To see someone still so motivated at 99 was amazing and a shining example not to be afraid to
get going and get exercising. The NHS message is that getting elderly doesn’t mean you have
to get frail. The aim is to encourage people in their 60s and 70s to take up exercise, because
this reduces the risk of stroke and cardiac issues. It also keeps people out of hospital, which
has an economic benefit of course.
I’m proud that, at Icanho, we’ve continued to do a good job, despite the difficult time. Even
when we had to lock down, we adapted quickly to seeing clients online and supporting them. I
think we’re an outstanding rehabilitation facility, one of – if not the best – in East Anglia. What
makes us good is that we have a very well-rounded team (which includes physiotherapy,
speech and language therapy, OT, clinical psychology and social work) and it’s this
interdisciplinary factor that is so important. We give our clients the time and space to receive
really good, high-quality rehabilitation. We’re also enormously privileged to have access to
equipment that other services don’t have, like the Bioness Vector, which helps alleviate the
risk of falling for clients, as well as having other therapeutic benefits.
Yes, we’re certainly also supporting and working with our clients’ families and carers, with
education and advice, demonstrating how to help and sometimes directly by offering one-to-
one sessions with our social worker or psychologist. We try and include family wherever
possible. When someone has a brain injury, such as a stroke, it doesn’t just affect that one
person, it affects those around them. Even though it would put me out of a job, I’d love to see
the day when people don’t have to go through these traumatic experiences.
I remember so many of our clients, and it always feels a privilege to work with them. One client I recall, is a young lady who had a serious brain injury followed by a stroke. She lost her ability to use words and really struggled to communicate, but is highly intelligent. Prior to her injury, she was three-quarters of the way through a PhD. We worked very creatively with her, to get her back to college and finish her PhD. That was her goal. She worked really, really hard on her
treatment and we got her walking again and using her hands to some degree. Our occupational
therapist set up a liaison with the university and we sought funding from the Institute of Physics for her to continue studying, as she needed extra time. After she was discharged, I was at my desk one day and got a delivery. When I opened it, it was a CD of her thesis – she had her ‘Dr’ title. I got a mention in the thanks at the top, along with her neurosurgeon. I felt really proud to be part of that journey with her.
Now the 2021 Captain Tom 100 challenge gives us all a chance to honour Captain Tom’s memory and make tomorrow a good day for a charity we care about. We have over 70 dedicated nurses and clinicians on staff at Livability, who have poured their hearts and their skill into keeping the people with disabilities we support safe, well and happy in this most difficult of years.
We’d like to invite you to take part in this challenge with Livability, to show your support for these amazing professionals.
On Friday 30 April through to Bank Holiday Monday 3 May – what would have been Captain Tom’s 101st birthday weekend. You can take the Challenge, based around the number 100, any time and anywhere over the weekend. Find out more