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Sport a tonic for patient

Playing table tennis has been a key part of Andrew Souths battle to recover from a serious neurological disease which left him in a coma for two months.

Playing table tennis has been a key part of Andrew Souths battle to recover from a serious neurological disease which left him in a coma for two months.

A Sheffield man with a brain disorder is battling back to health after a coma – and puts his recovery down to table tennis.

Andrew South, aged 33, has serious neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a life-threatening reaction to antipsychotic drugs which left him in a coma for two months.

After undergoing a rehabilitation programme, he joined a table tennis club in Darnall – and now credits the sport with helping him recover his movement.

Andrew’s father Geoff – also his carer – said the pastime was ‘very therapeutic’.

He said: “From being completely immobile, he has had to learn to crawl and walk again.

“Sometimes he was in a wheelchair and scared to move.”

Andrew, who has learning difficulties, was admitted to the city’s Northern General Hospital, where he fell into a coma after having a bad reaction to medication two years ago.

He was introduced to table tennis at the intensive treatment service in Firs Hill, then signed up to the Albert Premier club in Darnall.

The therapy has proved so successful that Andrew competed at a national championship for people with disabilities in March, and is ready to join a league in September.

He said: “It’s helped me with my co-ordination and it’s helped me interact with people and get skills.

“I’ve got better at listening and I’m serving better.”

Geoff said: “Someone coming out of long-term trauma is in a fragile state.

“His consultant at the unit got him on the table tennis table and he became quite proficient, so we tried to find somewhere for him to play after he left.”

Coach Shaun Alvey said: “We believe everyone can achieve something with the right people helping them in the right sport.

“Andrew attends training sessions, he’s always there when he has the opportunity. Some people didn’t think he was ready, but I thought it would be good experience for him to meet other people – and he won two matches.”

 

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