For Joe Ash, experiencing a second stroke at just 20 years of age was a setback, but armed with self-determination and a boost from a former AFL footballer, the young music enthusiast is on the road to recovery.
Joe is one of the youngest stroke patients to be treated at The Alfred and Caulfield Hospital. Rehabilitation can take hundreds of hours of hard work and pain, so what better way to get motivated in the gym than with a kick of the footy with Chris Judd?
The Brownlow Medal winner spent time with Joe this week at Caulfield Hospital, which included a kick of the footy – a skill that Joe’s been working on as part of his rehabilitation.
Physiotherapist Yii Chang is helping Joe get his movement back, after the stroke left him with stiffness in some of his muscles, balance issues and weakness in his right side.
“We started off doing a lot of core strength, and then moved on to higher levels such as jogging, work on the trampoline and working towards jumping and kicking the footy,” Yii said.
Speech Pathologist Anat Lankri said Joe experienced frustration after the stroke as he wasn’t able to communicate like he used to.
“When Joe first came in he was having trouble getting any words out, not able to name family and friends,” Anat said. “We’ve been working on this, giving him the first sound of a word, and also focusing on his reading and writing.”
Music is very important to Joe, including as a DJ and pianist, so his rehabilitation is focused on regaining those skills.
“Joe has come a long way and he will continue his rehab in the community, and a lot of practice at home with his family,” said Anat.
Joe’s age gives him an advantage in his recovery as the brain can more easily create new pathways for his physical movements and speech.
“It’s really hard but it’s good,” Joe said. “I started in a wheelchair, now I’m moving my legs.”
He’s still deciding whether to wear his new Carlton jersey from Chris Judd during rehab sessions or frame it.
(Photograph L-R: Speech Pathologist Anat Lankri, Physiotherapist Yii Chang, stroke patient Joe Ash, Chris Judd and Brian Anthonisz, Head of General Rehabilitation at Caulfield Hospital)