Truly a walk to remember

Penny was able to walk her daughter down the aisle now that she’s improved her physical function and independent communication skills.

A loving mother and wife, Penny had always done her absolute best to support her family as a homemaker. But in 2019, she suffered a stroke caused by a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Penny experienced significant right-sided hemiplegia in her upper and lower body, which reduced her range of motion and her ability to mobilise and transfer safely. This also impaired her adaptive functioning, taking away her ability to perform independent self-care and in-home activities. Additionally, global aphasia and severe apraxia, made it difficult for her to communicate.

Penny loved nothing more than being there for her family, especially with her daughter due to getting married. She wanted to make sure she was able to attend the wedding and participate in all the celebratory activities.

So, Penny connected with Better Rehab Blacktown’s multidisciplinary team.

Teamwork – and a whole lot of determination

Working with Penny are Joyce Leung (Occupational Therapist), Danielle Antonio (Physiotherapist), Elly Mustapha (Speech Pathologist) and Karen Tyszyk (Allied Health Assistant). The superstar quartet banded together to create a holistic approach to therapy that would best support Penny in achieving her goals, especially in time for the wedding.

Joyce’s priority was to help Penny have better mobility in order to access the community. She arranged for Penny to get a powered wheelchair, as well as a prescription for a Dynamic Movement Orthosis (DMO) glove to assist with improving muscle tone and reducing spasticity. This has helped Penny move around with ease and safety while performing personal care tasks more independently.

To improve Penny’s physical function, Danielle developed a custom plan of exercises with a focus on strength, balance and gait. She also prescribed a new custom Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFO) that enabled Penny to transfer independently in and out of the bathroom and car.

After the stroke affected Penny’s communication abilities, Elly worked on her expressive language skills. Penny was able to go from speaking in repetitive one-word phrases to five-word phrases that are meaningful and contextual. This has allowed her to clearly express her thoughts, enabling her to chat independently without relying on her husband, Andrew, to interpret.

Penny also needed to increase her practice of exercises and tasks prescribed by both Dani and Joyce. Karen supported her in walking, standing, doing upper limb exercises, grooming and practising speech strategies during their sessions. The frequent and intensive practice of skills with Karen’s help has been integral in Penny’s continued progress.

“We all love working with Penny and have been very privileged to be a part of her rehabilitation journey,” says Danielle. “The goals of her therapy have moved from focusing on tasks that are important around the home to meaningful community participation and, more importantly, bonding with her family.”

Achieving goals

Penny has been consistently working with Better Rehab’s multidisciplinary team for two full years. She has now increased her ability to walk around her home with the prescription of a new custom AFO, improve her ability to transfer independently in and out of the bathroom and car, as well as navigate the community using her wheelchair so she can go to the stores as she’s always loved to visit. 

Penny’s expressive language skills have also improved. She can now communicate with the therapists independently, and go around the community to order coffee, get her haircut and ask for different clothing options. 

But the most notable achievements have revolved around being able to once again be there for her family. She now gets to spend time with her grandchildren and push them in their prams. She was also able to walk her daughter down the aisle and dance with her husband at the wedding! 

“Penny and Andrew are always proactive and keen for all the recommendations we as a team have made. Seeing Penny interact with other people, walk around the shops, and express herself clearly is the culmination of over two years of support and it’s wonderful to be a part of,” Danielle adds. 

Want to learn more about Better Rehab’s multidisciplinary approach to therapy or connect with our superstar clinicians? 

Email our friendly admin team at or call 1300 073 422 to book an appointment. 

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