Janelle’s Inspiring Story – from Uncertainty to Confidence

February 1, 2023

In 2022 Janelle engaged Total Health Physio for Exercise Physiology services, to help her achieve her meaningful goals by managing the symptoms of a past stroke.

Janelle has since been working with our wonderful EP, Patrick, to improve her independence and engagement in her favourite activity, which is spending time with her grandchildren. Recently she had a new granddaughter! She is also an avid Home and Away fan.

In this article, we interview Patrick, who reflects on the inspiring story of Janelle’s progress.

Janelle’s Story

Janelle experienced a stroke in 1987. The stroke had a significant impact on Janelle’s life, impacting her function, strength, balance and consequently her ability to walk. Since the stroke, Janelle was predominantly wheelchair-bound and was experiencing a loss of function in her left arm, such as grip strength.

Janelle lacked strength in her lower limbs and would rely on using her arms to pull herself up into standing. She would need to hold onto a countertop to get up and down out of the chair, finding this a very difficult and tiring exercise! 

Janelle is a motivated and inspiring individual! In the 4 months we’ve been working together, we have made really great progress! Janelle now proudly reports:

Getting up and down of the chair is just no problem now, I can do it in a flash”

Total Health Physio and Patrick look forward to continuing this relationship with Janelle into the future. Read on to learn the specifics of our engagement.


Understanding Stroke

Impact on Health:

Stroke is a serious medical condition that can lead to long-term physical, cognitive and emotional consequences. Strokes can cause paralysis, difficulty speaking, memory loss, and changes in mood and personality. These effects can last a lifetime and can be devastating for both the person affected and their family.

Impact on the Economy: Strokes also have a significant impact on the Australian economy, with the direct and indirect costs estimated to be over $3 billion annually.

This includes hospitalisation costs, rehabilitation costs, and loss of income due to disability or death.

Risk Factors: 

Several factors increase the risk of stroke, including age, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, and a family history of stroke.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and managing these risk factors is essential in reducing the likelihood of stroke.


Preventing strokes is crucial in reducing their impact on the Australian

population. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, managing

stress, and not smoking. Additionally, regularly monitoring and managing risk

factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes can also significantly reduce the likelihood of stroke.

At total health Physio our caring and compassionate therapists are highly experienced in stroke rehabilitation. 

Performing an Initial Assessment

Total Health Physio was contacted by Janelle’s support coordinator. We booked an initial assessment at her home.

In these assessments, we use structured reporting, however, it is important to always listen to the client’s story in their own words. So we ask questions to help work out how they are affected in their day-to-day life, such as – 

  • How do you find cooking?
  • What are your struggles?

From their responses and our objective testing, we can find the areas where the client would benefit from assistance, develop goals and plan our therapy. Janelle’s response to “how do you find cooking” was, “I use one arm to do it. And that limits a lot of things for me. It takes twice, or three times as long. I’m not confident holding other pieces of equipment”. 

This subjective part of the assessment, plus our quantitative strength testing, highlighted the left/right strength discrepancy, and the need for us to focus on upper limb rehabilitation.

The Use of a Wheelchair

Janelle has been using a wheelchair for many years. She believed that she was now bound to it. There had been few attempts at walking in this time.

Patrick believed that Janelle could attempt walking again and Janelle was excited to give it a try. Together they have made lots of exciting progress! She is now performing strength exercises in standing – on her way to taking steps.

Specific Rehabilitation Plan for Janelle

Therapy will always primarily be focused on improving areas that the client feels is most impacted, first and foremost. For Janelle, this was

  • Upper and lower limb strength
  • Improved standing balance
  • Confidence, more specifically, the confidence to get up and down without the use of her arms

Patrick created a routine including walking, balance and strength exercises with progressive overload. After each session, they would write down what was performed, as well as comments on how Janelle is feeling or any issues she is dealing with.

Outcomes of Working with Patrick

Janelle has expressed gratitude to Pat and feels “Pat, there’s no way I could have done what I’m doing when we started.” 

We have seen a dramatic improvement in the amount, the intensity and the type of exercises that we’re doing and the things she’s now able to functionally achieve, from when we started 4 months ago.Janelle is now walking using her frame weekly with Pat!

Pat reflects that Janelle’s ability to get up and down out of the chair now is just no problem. She’s commented that this has helped her so much in her life now. Getting up and down off any seat, getting in and out of bed, is so much easier than it was before. 

That’s such a powerful impact on Janelle’s quality of life and her ability to live an independent life.

Upholding Values of Trust, Compassion and Care

It was most important for Janelle to trust Pat and feel confident that if he asked her to do something, he was confident she could do it, so she wouldn’t be afraid to try. Taking things slowly and at Janelle’s pace, with small steps and being comfortable to try again later.

From Pat “Allowing Janelle the freedom, combined with voicing my confidence in her that she would do it, not only made her feel more comfortable – but she trusted me a lot more too!

The Future for Janelle and Total Health Physio

We look forward to continuing on this great path together. We will support Janelle to continue to make improvements in her strength, her balance and walking and therefore improve her independence and ultimately her quality of life!

Know Someone that Would Benefit from Exercise Physiology?

We value each and every client and our amazing therapists will treat them with Trust, Compassion and Care, just like Janelle.

  • Our staff are university-trained
  • We are kind and caring
  • We are an Australian-owned company since 2011
  • We will visit you in your own homes

Please use our contact page to get in touch. You can also ask to speak to our amazing EP, Patrick, he’d love to hear from you!