Steve Tull uses the Ness H200 hand rehabilitation system along with one of his physiotherapists Erin White.

Steve Tull uses the Ness H200 hand rehabilitation system along with one of his physiotherapists Erin White.

Battling back from stroke

Ladner man uses new technology to tackle disability head on.

Steve Tull focuses intently on his left hand as his fingers slowly begin to straighten. This process of trying to open his hand is something he has been working on for more than three years.

Sitting on a small plastic office chair, the once independent and hard-working man watches as his mind battles with his body to open his clenched fist.

The former Judo instructor and Ladner resident had recently sold his trucking company and was in the process of planning a relaxing retirement with his wife when his life changed in an instant. Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007 is a date that is burned into his memory.

As usual he was up with his dog at 5 a.m., making himself a peanut butter and honey sandwich. As he reached down to clean up some honey he had accidently spilled, the muscles in his body gave way and he collapsed to the floor in a heap.

After a minute or two, with the help of his wife Janey, he was able to slowly get back to his feet, however he knew something wasn’t right. Although he looked and felt fairly normal a trip to the emergency ward and a battery of tests showed he had a blood clot on the brain and by the end of the day he was completely paralyzed on the left side of his body. Doctors told him he had suffered a stroke.

After being in hospital for one month and G.F Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver for three months, Tull and his wife began searching the Internet for possible treatments and they found a clinic based in Abbotsford that was offering some new technolgy.

Tull has been working with two new rehabilitation devices designed to improve his hand flexibility and give him the ability to walk on his own.

The devices, made by a company called Bioness, deliver electrical stimulation to the muscle which in turn sends a message to the damaged portion of the brain allowing the brain to relearn what has been damaged by the stroke. The new technology is the first of its kind in Western Canada and Tull is taking advantage of every edge he can get.

“At first it was depressing, but you just have to get past that,” said Tull.

The past president of the Delta Flying Club has no plans on giving up. In fact, he still has a goal of going hunting and fishing with his son again.

According to his physiotherapist Heather Branscombe of Abilities Rehabilitation in Surrey, his goal is not out of the question.

“You have to remember this is a marathon not a sprint, but you can never say never when it comes to rehab. There’s new technology coming out all the time.”

Although the Bioness system is not cheap – more than $6,000 per device – the equipment can be rented on a weekly basis. And there is a free screening process for every patient to see if these machines would be a benefit.

Tull also combines his physiotherapy with a personal trainer and pool exercise four times a week.

“Steve is super-motivated and has the time and the resources to benefit from this treatment,” Branscombe says. “All patients need repetition, and this is just one of many tools needed for patients to make serious progress.”




Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

Music therapist Felicia Wall in the music room at Phoenix Society in Surrey. (submitted photo)
Eclectic album showcases songs recorded by Surrey residents in recovery

Project at Phoenix Society took about six months to complete, with help of music therapist

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read