Paralysed hospital worker in race to save Ability Bow therapy gym

On the treadmill... Jocelyn Lane [inset] at Bow Ability therapy gym

On the treadmill... Jocelyn Lane [inset] at Bow Ability therapy gym - Credit: Archant

A mother struck down with a devastating neuro-immune disease that left her paralysed is bravely taking part in a charity run in her wheelchair to help keep the troubled therapy gymnasium open that is helping her struggle to recover.

Jocelyn Lane is taking part in Sunday’s annual fundraiser in Victoria Park in east London to support the Ability Bow gym in Old Ford where she gets her physio-therapy.

The 54-year-old NHS worker who ran a breast-feeding education programme for new mums at the nearby Homerton Hospital suddenly went down with Accute Diseminating Encephalomyelitis seven years ago.

“I was paralysed from the neck down and ended up in the National Neurological Hospital for six months,” Jocelyne explained.

“It’s an autoimmune disorder with high mortality rate where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own brain tissue—I couldn’t move my hands or arms and couldn’t do anything for myself.”

She survived the attack, which often proves fatal, and started getting her feeling back after 10 days, but couldn’t stand unaided.

Yet she struggled to return to work at Homerton Hospital, using a wheelchair.

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“I didn’t see the point in waiting at home for things to start improving,” Jocelyn added. “I had a lot of muscle wastage from lying in hospital for six months, so I wanted to get moving.”

The mother-of-two didn’t know anything about Ability Bow gymnasium until a colleague at Homerton mentioned it last year. She joined in January and has slowly begun making what could be a full recovery, with her muscles now “firing again”.

Jocelyn has a 90 per cent chance of full recovery, although it may take some years.

She has therapy twice weekly at the gym held at St Paul’s Old Ford parish church, off Roman Road, and aims to be able to stand up unaided—but she still needs her wheelchair, even after seven years.

The gym has subsidised therapy sessions for those in need who can’t pay high commercial fees, many having been referred by the NHS including patients from clinics and hospitals recovering from accidents and debilitating illnesses such as stroke and heart attack.

But it struggles for cash, relying on grants and public support. It came close to being shut-down twice in the past eight years.

There are currently 75 people on its waiting list, with those needing its therapy often having to wait up to three months to be seen.

Raising just £1,000 would mean it could take on a part-time instructor working with two patients, for an hour a week each for a year.

Wellwishers can join Sunday’s fundraiser at Victoria Park by calling Ability Bow on 020-8980 7778, or emailing