From stroke to success: giving back to Livability Icanho

Last week, 24 January, Bob Power presented a £1,000 cheque for his gratitude to Livability Icanho, our brain injury rehabilitation centre in Suffolk. The money was raised by Bob’s fitness company, Next Level Fitness, which he founded after receiving life-changing treatment and therapy at Livability Icanho, following a debilitating stroke, which enabled him to regain his mobility and return to working life.

Suffering a stroke

Bob was treated at Icanho after his wife Julie found him collapsed on their kitchen floor, leaving him unable to walk or care for himself. His future looked bleak: ‘As well as having next to no mobility, my driving licence was suspended for a year. As a self-employed carpenter and kitchen fitter, how was I going to support my family?’ Bob says he became ‘really low’ over the next few months, experiencing suicidal thoughts and despair.

Bob requested to be referred to Livability Icanho after seeing a family friend make significant progress with us. The centre offers highly specialised  therapy and has recently installed a state-of-the-art Bioness Vector machine, a dyanamic body weight support system which is used to enhance physical recovery.  Icanho’s Centre Manager Dr Rosemary Gravell says: ‘The fact that we can offer the relevant therapies within one joined-up service means we can provide unified, holistic rehabilitation, not available elsewhere.’

This breadth of therapies made a big difference to Bob: ‘As well as the physical therapy from the team there, Icanho encouraged me to see how much I could still do and let me talk about how I was feeling. Getting your mind right is really important.’

Taking rehabilitation to the ‘Next Level’

A medical insurance pay-out gave Bob the opportunity to think about his future. ‘With my daughter’s boyfriend Ben, who is a professional personal trainer, and my experience of how beneficial physical therapy is, we decided to set up a fitness business – Next Level Fitness. We started with two classes a week in a local field, mainly family and friends.’

Over two years, Bob and Ben have built up Next Level Fitness to a successful business in Haverhill, 115 contracting members and over 450 attending classes over the week. Classes include circuit training, a 21-day challenge and nutritional advice.

Generosity and giving back

Bob hosts regular social events as part of the business’ outreach, raising the £1,000 donation for Icanho at a recent Christmas party. ‘I always wanted this to be more about community and not just a fitness business,’ he says. ‘I needed to give something back to Icanho, and I want to raise more money for them.’

Dr Gravell was thrilled by Bob’s generosity – and his progress. ‘When I took Bob’s call to say he had nominated Icanho to benefit from his company’s Christmas fundraising, I was incredibly touched to think that he wanted to recognise our work and the role we played in his rehabilitation. It means so much to receive donations from people with whom we have worked, who want to help others going through recovery and rehabilitation. The donation is incredibly generous – my first reaction was wow!’

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