Heartwarming tail as Sheffield stroke patient reunited with dog

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A Sheffield stroke patient was able to get mobile again by using a reunion with his beloved pet dog as a motivation to use his new wheelchair.

Derek Watson, aged 77, of High Green, Sheffield, set a goal of meeting his dog, Douglas, at the entrance to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Broomhill as inspiration for his recovery journey.

Derek had been admitted to the Acute Stroke Unit after suffering a left-sided stroke, which left him with communication difficulties and weakness in the right-side of his body.

An assessment found that he needed a highly supportive wheelchair, but he was initially reluctant to try sitting in it.

After a couple of weeks he was able to communicate more, and told staff that he was really missing the company of his beloved pet Douglas.

Together, Derek and his physiotherapist set a goal that if he was able to sit in his chair for one hour a day for a week, he would then be able to go down to the hospital entrance and meet Douglas - a springer/ cocker spaniel cross.

Within three days of setting this target, Derek was able to sit in his wheelchair for nearly three hours, and was taken down and reunited with his canine companion, who was brought along by his granddaughters.

Derek said: “I was happy to see Douglas.

“I needed to see my own dog, my companion that I love sincerely.

“It helped me to focus on my goal, which is to get home to see Douglas.”

Occupational Therapist Naomi Vaughan, who worked with Derek on his recovery, said: “Derek’s story really shows the value of the patient centred goals that we use on the stroke unit, and the special relationship that we aspire to have with patients.

“We set goals about what they want to achieve, and what is important to them.

“A lot of the time we are working towards getting patients fit to return home, so we test their balance while sitting and standing and their ability to get around safely.

“In Derek’s case it was important to get him used to sitting in his wheelchair.

“He said that he was really missing Douglas and all he wanted to do was to see him, so we set this as his goal.

“He was so thrilled at achieving this that he asked for his story to be shared.”