When Chris Sharpe first attended Pendleside Hospice for rehabilitation treatment he hardly spoke a word because his condition made him lack confidence.
Chris, 49, suffers from a rare neurological condition called Freidreich’s Ataxia. His mum died aged 42 and his brother, 52, from the same condition.
Since being referred to Pendleside Day Services by his social worker Chris has now progressed to using the toning beds at Pendle Leisure Centre in Colne twice a week. Both staff there and at Pendleside have witnessed a massive change not only in his physical appearance but also in his personality.
Chris, who lives in Colne and uses a wheelchair and mobility scooter to get around, wanted to be a Grand Prix driver when he was young. But he said: “I started suffering from my condition when I was in my teens and I’ve never been able to work.
“This is the best treatment I have had over the years both mentally and physically. If it wasn’t for the people at Pendleside and at the leisure centre I think I would just give up.
“My favourite machines are the ones for my chest and legs. My legs have definitely got stronger and when I stand I’m not falling down as much.”
Emily Whiteoak, a rehabilitation assistant at Pendleside who is also studying to become a physiotherapist, said: “Chris is the first patient that we have gone into partnership with Pendle Leisure Trust to give him a joint assessment and the use of the specialist machines at The Feelgood suite at the leisure centre in Colne.
“While we have a small gym at the hospice we just don’t have the specialist equipment they have at the leisure centre so for us to work together in partnership is fantastic.”
She added: “While Chris has only been using the equipment a few weeks he is thoroughly enjoying the experience and has really come out of himself. There has been such a change in his self confidence.
“He is guided by our physio assessment and is reviewed on a regular basis so all intervention is safe.
“It has been a really positive partnership between Pendleside and Pendle Leisure and they have agreed to do more work with our patients to get the best possible rehab for them.”
The Feelgood suite for people suffering debilitating conditions has been in operation for more than 10 years. The assisted equipment helps people with physical issues to help tone their limbs and bodies.
Megan Clark, a Feelgood instructor, said: “We offer on-going assessments and tailor schedules to meet the individual’s requirements. We have got referrals from GPs and they are dealth with by the Up And Active team who decide on a person’s needs.”