Two years after being told she would never walk or talk again, a 19-year-old stroke survivor has triumphantly crossed the finish line in a 2km charity fun run.
Bethany Sinfield: "Physiotherapy has become an essential part of my life"
Bethany Sinfield was studying for her A-Levels when she suffered a severe brainstem stroke which left her paralysed and only able to use her eyes to communicate.
But the Leighton Buzzard resident said she was determined to defy doctors’ predictions.
“I always had an image in my mind of walking and talking again, just hanging with my friends like normal, so I focused on that and wasn’t settling for anything less – I was quite stubborn!” Ms Sinfield said.
She started physiotherapy less than a week after arriving at Addenbrookes Hospital’s acute stroke unit in Cambridge.
Physiotherapists focused on helping the teen regain movement in her head and neck while working on relaxing her arm and leg muscles which had become stiff from lying in bed.
She spent eight months at Northwick Park Hospital’s regional rehabilitation unit, received daily physiotherapy and was given exercises to do in bed each night with the help of her family.
“It’s funny, it seems like physiotherapy has now become an essential part of my life,” she said.
“If I don’t have it I feel like I just haven’t tried to get better or I feel my dream of walking completely unaided is further away or harder to achieve.”
Ms Sinfield said learning to stand and taking tentative first steps were big achievements, but walking unaided over long distances remained a challenge.
“My confidence is probably the hardest part to ever gain back, I’m still not fully confident but the physiotherapy is definitely helping this. As my legs get stronger my confidence grows,” she said.
Ms Sinfield said she still receives regular physiotherapy: “We always have a laugh, she works me really hard too – there is the perfect balance.”
In December 2014, Ms Sinfield completed the 2km Santa’s Little Helper Fun Run with her mum by her side in 35 minutes, raising £690 for the Stroke Association and slashing her previous time of one hour 45 minutes.
“I almost ran, my feet were moving so fast!” she said.