I started seeing Natalie and the team at Neurolink Physiotherapy in 2012 following an incomplete spinal cord injury at L2 and L4 in 2010. I was referred to Natalie by my case manager of the time as the NHS had delivered all they were able to deliver at the time.
Prior to seeing Natalie, I had made considerable progress following on from my initial injuries and had gone from being unable to walk to able to mobilise a little, for short distances, with crutches, at great effort.
Natalie lined me up with weekly visits to see her. As we worked together and made progress with mobility we started to see a clear need for massage therapy to help to keep me well stretched and to physically ease the ongoing aches and pains for the week ahead. We also started to recognise specific weaknesses that needed to be addressed and so lined me up with PT sessions, all within the Neurolink clinic. It meant for a fairly long time, one day a week I practically moved into the clinic for three hours of treatment and hard work but the results were incredible. As time progressed, so did my strength and my mobility improved and the need for my wheelchair decreased. Travelling to Wimbledon from Kent is no small effort but I never came away feeling it was anything less than totally worth it.
Over the months my relationship with Natalie grew and there are few people I would trust more than her with regards to anything mobility related. This meant that in 2013, when I was investigating the pros and cons of having a below knee amputation to remove another area of damage from my initial accident she was one of the top opinions I wanted. Having decided to amputate she made adjustments to my treatment plan to help pre-hap me ready for the amputation continuing the physio, PT and massage therapy with a specific goal of preparing for recovery. We also started to incorporate time on the FES bike to try and increase muscle mass on my legs so they would power me through post amputation and to minimise the inevitable atrophy following on from the surgery and post op bed rest.
Fast forward a few years and life’s moved on further. My mobility has continued to improve post amputation, I’m a father of two and I’m back to Rock climbing with the goal of being in the GB paraclimbing team getting closer and closer to my grasp. I also qualified as a personal trainer in the time after my amputation. Without the team at Neurolink, I can hands down say that I don’t believe I could be the father I am today, and I wouldn’t be able to be the climber I am either. Whilst they will never be able to make my back not cause me pain, they have helped me find the strength to be able to function well in spite of it. This means I am capable of carrying my 2 year old on my shoulders and carry my 1 year old with my spare hands. Nothing is more precious than that!
We currently try and make sure we have a monthly/six weekly maintenance visits even though with life moving on, kids making me busy, and trying to train as close to full time as possible. Carving out the time to spend two hours a month at Neurolink Physiotherapy is harder than before. This allows me to spend an hour with Natalie Woodman and an hour with (usually) Gem getting deep tissue massage. The combination of these two, along with some further sports massage more locally, keeps me ticking over and helps keep my joints more nimble. It also allows Natalie to do two things which are crucially important to me. She knows my spine and sees it regularly and it gives me great comfort to know she is keeping an eye on it given the stresses and strains I put it under. She also takes time to assess the way my body is moving to look for imbalances which we can work on and treat as required.
I can’t recommend Natalie and the team at Neurolink Physiotherapy for anyone dealing with a spinal cord injury. You’ll only receive the highest standards of care and support.