The stroke survivor who’s achieving miracles through his own experience
Dr Tom Balchin, 37, looks like a muscle-bound bodybuilder.
But his impressive six-pack and pecs belie the fact that he suffered a devastating brain haemorrhage when he was 21. It left him totally paralysed down one side and confined to a wheelchair.
But this extraordinary man refused to let his sudden change in circumstances ruin his life.
He said: “There was only one way to go, and that was up.”
With single-minded determination, he fought his way back to fitness through a combination of martial arts, resistance training and multi-disciplinary approaches.
He completed an MA and PhD and spent three years lecturing on gifted education.
“But 12 years ago I decided I wasn’t really helping anyone,” he said.
So he developed ARNI (Action for Rehabilitation from Neurological Injury), based on his own experience, combined with that of hundreds of fellow survivors. The charity aims to improve life after discharge for the one million plus people annually in the UK living with the effects of a stroke – more than 7,000 in Bedfordshire alone.
Dr Balchin’s Chaul End Community Centre stroke unit has been so successful that he has been invited to attend the World Stroke Congress in Brazil next month.
Former service manager Polly Parrish, who spotted ARNI’s potential in 2010, said: “The real reward was seeing the difference it made to people’s lives.
“I remember one woman throwing her arms round me and telling me she’d been able to dress herself that morning for the first time in four years.
“Just as important, her increased independence meant that her husband, who had been her main carer, was able to return to work.”
The Chaul End facility is a combined operation with The Stroke Association, Luton Borough Council and Beds&Herts Heart and Stroke Network.
The philosophy behind ARNI is simple. With more than 120 instructors across the country, it aims to teach survivors physical coping strategies as well as intensive resistance and functional movement training.
All these techniques are contained in Dr Balchin’s manual The Successful Stroke Survivor: The new guide to functional recovery from stroke.
News of his amazing achievements has spread far and wide – this week 15-year-old Jake Buckett flew in from California with his father Kevin.
Jake suffered a severe traumatic brain injury when he fell off climbing equipment seven years ago.
Mr Buckett Snr said: “We were told we’d run out of options before we found Dr Balchin on a website in 2009.
“He’s given us hope. What’s happened with Jake is a miracle. And he’s still improving.”
> The Stroke Association helpline is 0303 3033 100. For more information about the Chaul End centre, call 01582 557146. To contact Dr Balchin email email@example.com or visit http://www.arni.uk.com/
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Weather for Luton
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
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Wind direction: North