Lee Audis was 23 and playing professional rugby when a road traffic accident left him with life threatening brain injuries, unable even to breath without assistance. Today, he is able to live an active life again and is even coaching rugby, following a remarkable recovery that was supported by a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians at the Huntercombe Group’s Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, the unwavering support of his family and his own determination.

The story of Lee’s journey of recovery has now been told in a video that is available to view below.

Lee has no memory of his accident. He was in intensive care at Leeds General Infirmary and unconscious for 12 days. After two months in hospital, he was transferred to the Huntercombe Group’s Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre. When he arrived there in January 2012, he was in a minimally conscious state. He could not control voluntary movements, was prone to involuntary muscle spasm and some of his muscles had contracted. He was unable to communicate or follow movement with his eyes. He received nutrition and hydration via a naso-gastric tube. Lee recalls: ”It was like being born again. I had to re-learn everything.”

The multi-disciplinary team who contributed to Lee’s recovery and rehabilitation

Dr Angus Graham, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, commented: “Lee’s remarkable recovery shows what can sometimes be achieved against all apparent odds.”

Dr. Graham helped to manage Lee’s muscle spasms and pain through medication, so enabling him to be assisted in learning to take control of his body. Che Ming Leung, Speech and Language Therapist, encouraged Lee initially to drink through a straw, progressing to a normal diet within a month. She worked with him to improve eye contact and voice control and to regain his language functionality.

Once Lee’s spasticity was under better control through medication, Clare Belmont, Lead Physiotherapist, worked on exercises to improve his ability to control the movement of his body and limbs. Seven months of hard work, in which Lee demonstrated his absolute commitment, took him from being unable to sit in a wheelchair unless he was strapped in for support, to the emotional day when he walked again.

As he gained better control of his movements, Abi Doxford, Occupational Therapist, began to work on his co-ordination and re-learning of everyday activities such as making a cup of tea and being able to wash and dress without help. Alana Tooze, Psychologist, worked with Lee to devise strategies to help him achieve goals; finding ways to use strengths to compensate for weaknesses and encouraging him to focus on what he could potentially get back, rather than what he had lost.

Testimony to Lee’s remarkable journey is that earlier this year completed the Bath Half Marathon, along with members of the clinical team. He donated his sponsorship money to buy equipment to benefit other patients at the Frenchay Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre.