Patient Stories

Tamlyn (June 2018)

Our daughter Tamlyn was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome on 22 December 2017 at Groenkloof Life Hospital. She was admitted to the Specialised ICU unit and due to the severe nature of her specific case she was placed on a ventilator within hours.

GBS had stripped the insulation (myelin sheath) from her nerves resulting in catastrophic short circuits through her entire body. Tamlyn was left paralysed with only limited eye movement. Tamlyn would now be subjected to the rigours of an extended stay in ICU (just over 4 months) and a long and slow rehabilitation and recovery process. Full physical recovery is achieved in 70% of all cases over a period of one to three years.

The uncertainty that comes with GBS can be overwhelming, fortunately for us Groenkloof Life hospital makes use of RehabWorx (RW).

RehabWorx function as a team with Neurologists, Physiotherapists, Occupational therapists and speech therapists working together and complementing each other.

The RW Team did an excellent job in exercising all muscles daily, working on swallowing, speech, breathing, eye co-ordination and maintaining the trachea. Keeping Tamlyn's lungs clean and healthy (Tamlyn also has Cystic Fibrosis which made it even more challenging) for four months has also been an achievement.

It's the little things that make the big difference which we will forever be grateful for, the little things that are not part of the job description but make a huge difference in Tamlyn and our GBS journey.

Tamlyn always looked forward to her daily regime of therapy because the RehabWorx team made it special for her.

In the early days, the RehabWorx team made the effort to communicate with Tamlyn using the tedious alphabet card. The team would tell jokes and Tamlyn would be the judge, they would ask Tamlyn what song she liked and play them for her. For a vulnerable child who could barely move her eyes the RW team was part of what she looked forward to on a daily basis. They made the effort to entertain her. They gave Tamlyn something to look forward to, with "Fun Fridays" soon becoming a weekly highlight. The RehabWorx team were extremely creative and activities they organised for her included Art projects, making slime, tenpin bowling (IN ICU!), balloon volleyball and a myriad of other exciting activities. These activities did not only challenge Tamlyn on a physical level and make therapy fun but contributed massively to her mental state which is so underestimated with GBS patients.

After 3 Months, the RW team were also responsible for getting Tamlyn out of the confines of her hospital room. Tamlyn loved going down to the RW Gym in her wheelchair and she cannot wait to see what new activity or challenge lies in wait. All the specialised therapy exercise gadgets allow Tamlyn to exercise those muscles that are slowly returning. Tamlyn was even able to experience standing again with the support of a special frame.

The communication from the team has made this journey so much easier. As parents, we were not permitted to see Tamlyn during the day so when we received videos'/photos of Tamlyn celebrating Valentine's Day or riding an exercise bike, it really makes your day.

Thank you RehabWorx for supporting us all when times were tough and especially for your efforts in keeping Tamlyn's spirits up when the physical challenges seemed overwhelming.

We have been extremely blessed to have had RehabWorx be part of this crucial phase of Tamlyn's road to recovery and will never forget the special people from your team that we have had the privilege to share time with.

Kind Regards

Stephan Kruger (January 2017)

I am currently admitted at Groenkloof Life Hospital and would like to share some insight of my experience in acute rehabilitation. Needless to say what I have been diagnosed with, this email is dedicated for the team at Rehabworx.

Firstly, and personally, I would like to point out in particular the two individuals that have been working with for the past two weeks. Clarissa Haylett and Charlotte Lubbe – above all, you are remarkably knowledgeable in your area of expertise and have provided clarity to me from all aspects in and around my diagnoses. The fact that you are true, compassionate, humble, patient and approachable really helps with the whole process from a physical as well mental point of view. I will forever have enough time for you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!

A few key things I have noted from the services of Rehabworx is that there is an amazing presence of teamwork, the communication structures seems to be fluent and everybody really wants to make a difference in other peoples’ lives. The professionalism and friendliness is of a very high standard. The synergy from Doctors to staff and from staff to nurses to a reverse order is impeccable. I have really been blessed to be in an environment like this.

Everybody at Rehabworx is doing a fantastic job and I commend your services. Thank you for everything!

Kind Regards

Stephan Kruger

Beatrix van der Merwe (March 2016)

I have been a patient of RehabWorx at Groenkloof Hospital since 8 October 2015.

I had a rhizotomy on 10 July 2014 and when I came to after the operation, was completely paralysed. I was diagnosed with Brown Sequard syndrome.

I received in hospital rehab but was still not able to function at an optimal level . I was referred for outpatient rehab at RehabWorx. Since my outpatient rehab started, I have learned to use my right hand to such an extent that I can touch my pinkie with my thumb, something I though I would never be able to do. With that came the ability to write legibly ,complete a soduko, participate in crafts and many other things that make my life easier and more enjoyable. I am building confidence to live by myself again and can now wash and dress myself, do buttons and shoelaces and I can even do my own laundry!

With the physiotherapy I learned how to improve my gait and therefore put less stress on my joints. I now understand the consequence of knee hyperextension and the effect it has on my drop foot.

On those days that I feel as if you want to draw the covers over your head after waking up, and you do attend rehab, you are welcomed with a cup of tea. I believe this +/- five months of rehab at RehabWorx is the best option for me and the therapists have enhanced my life quality.

Josef du Preez (patient 2010 – 2012)


In the beginning of April 2010 my world was suddenly reversed when I had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance after what was diagnosed later as a stroke. To begin with I had never been in an ambulance, let alone in a hospital and this was only the beginning of a long and slow recovery process.

After what seemed like months of tests, brain scans and numerous other procedures I arrived home thinking that I was actually OK, but it was then that reality struck: apart from a speech impediment I realized that I could not read or write at all. My fine motor skills as well as the damage to the right brain stem impaired lateral and logical thought processes. In addition I also experienced difficulty in processing spatial awareness. I could not do simple things which I could do before without thinking, for example: I could not button my shirt and I could not walk properly and as a Comrades distance runner, obviously I could not run. (Just for the record, at the end of 2010 I completed my first 10km race!)

What were my options? I decided to embark on a rehabilitation programme at the Groenkloof Hospital. The therapists and my neurologist were operating from this centre and it became known to me as RehabWorx. For the next two years, I was gently and carefully nurtured into a lifestyle that would assist and help me to maintain a ‘normal’ life again. Obviously my background being a demanding and active performer as well as creative producer in musical theatre and dance did not always go hand in hand with the rehabilitation programme. At times I became frustrated, depressed and questioned being alive. Fortunately for me, the team at RehabWorx , from Wendy, the friendly secretary and all the other staff who were introduced to me, assisted to make this long process of recovery (and it is not over yet!) a positive and bearable experience.

Through their guidance they channelled what was needed in my case to give me the best possible chance for the future. At LCM the caring for me as a patient always made me feel special. Dr Duim and the team at RehabWorx proactively guided me after surgery which significantly changed the turn of my inabilities. Megan, Kirsten and Liezel as well as the psychiatrist working with the team all contributed towards eventually becoming me again.

Needless to say this does not happen without the help of friends, colleagues and loved ones. So, at the end of all this, what am I saying? To all stroke survivors: this is just the beginning of the rest of your life! Take heed that every moment leads to another moment and in this way, makes it possible to benefit from the expertise and guidance of the RehabWorx-team. Even at times of severe personal and psychological strife: go back and just do it!

I was fortunate to have such a dedicated team facilitating ‘my case’. Although I am still struggling with many everyday tasks, I am very aware that I would not have been able to lead an active and creative life had it not been for the love and care of the team at RehabWorx. I salute you!

Melonie McKechnie (October 2012)

I have been going to RehabWorx since mid-January 2012 after having a stroke on 23 October 2011. RehabWorx have proven to be invaluable to me as they have helped me with Speech therapy (Liezel), Occupational therapy (Candice) and Physiotherapy (Nerisha). I have improved and I aim to walk 5km in November 2012. From zero leg and arm movement and tattered language with the stroke, to where I am today, I say thank you to RehabWorx.

Melonie McKechnie

A M Marais (August 2011)

I am 53 years old and had a minor stroke eight years ago, at the age of 45 years.

Two years ago my path crossed with that of the rehab team at Groenkloof Hospital Neurology Rehabilitation Centre, RehabWorx. Retha Nienaber became my personal physiotherapist.

Retha Nienaber introduced me to the FES machine and I am taking part in a rehab programme as well. I want to state that my life was changed not only by the use of the aforementioned machine, but also by the results of the rehab programme. My quality of life improved dramatically, and I am of the view that rehab subsequent to a brain injury, is usually completely under-estimated.

Furthermore I may mention that prior to the use of the FES machine, my left knee was extremely painful to the extent that I could only walk with effort. Immediately after starting the use of the machine, the pain disappeared.


Mrs Hughes (September 2012)

It was a day I will never forget, the 26th March 2011, when my wife (75), a long-time Parkinson’s disease sufferer had a stroke and was admitted to the Little Company of Mary (LCM) Hospital, where she spent 10 days under the care of the stroke ward - St Francis.

Coupled with the stroke, the effects of the Parkinson’s disease particularly walking and balance now became more difficult to deal with. Hand control was also an increasing problem. During her time in hospital she was introduced to RehabWorx, a well-equipped rehabilitation centre located in the hospital and staffed by a number of Physiotherapists, as well as Occupational and Speech Therapists. The physiotherapists are directed by Retha Nienaber, a highly trained physiotherapist.

Dr Duim, who treated my wife for the stroke, took over the treatment of the Parkinson’s disease and prescribed the physical treatment and tests necessary. Dr Duim maintains constant touch with the rehab centre getting feed-back on patient’s progress.

Whilst in hospital the “rehab staff” tended my wife each day, getting her out of bed and doing walking and exercises and at the end of the 10 days she was able to walk, albeit aided, some 30m. It was a major breakthrough.

When she was discharged from the hospital she spent the next 2 months in a step-down nursing facility. During which time was treated by the RehabWorx Occupational therapist who helped her with co-ordination exercises.
When it was time to come home, one of the “Physio's” visited us and advised my wife on how to get out of bed unaided, get to and from the bathroom without falling and making use of the house such as stairs for exercising. Possible danger spots were identified and changed to assist and make life easier and safer. A schedule of daily walking and exercises to be done at home was established which was shown to our daytime Carer with instructions as to how the proper way to do the exercises.

It is now 18 months since the 26th March 2011 with no let-up and much heartache but my wife now manages to walk in the garden un-aided (3 – 500 meters) but with an attendant at hand in case of a fall. Her balance is still a bit suspect, particularly when she tries to do two things at once and exercises are being given to help this condition.

Despite the daily exercising at home she still goes to RehabWorx twice a week.

We are indeed truly blessed having the dedicated professional staff of RehabWorx who, with their always smiling greetings and patience, has made a difficult road a lot easier to travel.

My special thanks go to Retha, Nerisha and Nikki who were directly involved in the treatment of my wife, for their kindness and professional work and attitude and we wish them and RehabWorx every success.

Stan Hughes

A tribute to Charlotte Lubbe (October 2012)
Dr. G van der Merwe. All about my Physiotherapist...

I met Charlotte about two and a half years ago when I was introduced to her by Retha her boss. At that time I thought to myself “Is this old woman now really going to exercise me?: How pleasant was my surprise! So that nowadays she is my first choice as a physiotherapist. I can see that it is not only I who regard her as a very good therapist, her colleagues also think similarly, as can be perceived by their requests for advice and her rapid response to them.

I became her patient as a result of me falling on a step and became an incomplete quadriplegic. From the word go Charlotte was her professional self. She helped me through various exercises, took me for walks and listened to my moans and groans. Whenever she could advise me what to do to take care of these problems, she would. I have never seen Charlotte coming to me without a smile on her face even through rough patches e.g. her dog gets bitten by other dogs. Treating me very professionally. In life as I see it, one can distinguish between two kinds of people, one that does their daily work with a passion whilst the other person does his work just to finish it. Of these two kinds of persons one easily can see that Charlotte does her work with passion. It is thus a privilege to be one of her patients. I personally enjoy being exercised by her so that if I am not able to get to exercises I even feel depressed.

To conclude what I want to say about Charlotte can best be summarised by the word ‘Passion’. Where:

P - Passion for her patient’s always putting them first
A - Her affectionate nature making her loveable to all her patients
S - Her strength to pick up her patients from the floor or the bed
S - Her superior knowledge to engage any problem and be opposing solve it
I - Her interest in her patients helping them to overcome sometimes very difficult situations.
O - Others always count more than she in every situation
N - Never is any task or problem to big for her to tackle

Charlotte is a woman of substance

Dr. G van der Merwe