Jaz is boxing her way to recovery
Jaz West has come a long way since her stroke. Initially diagnosed with vertigo it took more than a day for the doctors to diagnose her stroke. It was such a shock for everyone, no-one expected a young person to have a stroke, but they do.
The stroke had left Jaz with locked-in-syndrome, a very rare neurological condition where she couldn’t move or speak. She was aware of what was going on around her but could not communicate with anyone. The only movement she had was control of her eyes. Jaz was fully paralysed and was only 25 years old.
Fast forward three years and Jaz is not only moving again, but she is back to her pre-stroke exercise of boxing.
Jaz was keen to get back to boxing as part of her rehabilitation to build her strength and confidence. She also wanted to get back to some of the activities she did before stroke struck.
When Jaz first stepped into Rudy’s Boxing after her stroke, her coach Rod was not prepared for her physical changes. He said, “I wasn’t expecting Jaz to be so immobile and fragile.
“I had known a little about stroke, as my father-in-law is a survivor, but I really didn’t know much about young stroke or the impact that it can have on a person.”
But, “I could see the fierce determination in her eyes, so we got down to training.”
How have you tackled training Jaz to box? Have you adjusted your boxing training methods?
ROD: Initially I thought I needed to tailor the workouts for Jaz and take baby steps. I quickly realised she was not going to do ‘baby steps’ and I adjusted the training methods to encompass Jaz’s desire to train at a more advanced physical level.
Although Jaz is sometimes limited in what boxing she can do, we have been able to incorporate many other exercises to build strength, endurance, coordination and confidence.
What progress has Jaz made both physically and mentally?
ROD: Jaz’s physical improvement has been remarkable. We are now doing more standard boxing exercises. Jaz is walking unaided while also boxing simultaneously. We have incorporated weight training and coordination exercises to further enhance her movement and strength.
We realised very early on that Jaz’s physical output was directly correlated with her mindset. It is as important to work with her mental application as her physical capacity.
Building Jaz’s trust and confidence, not only in her body but also in the way we worked together was paramount to achieving good results. Some days have been more difficult than others and we have embraced the challenge of these days with open and honest discussion.
What have you personally learned from training Jaz?
ROD: From a personal perspective, I have been amazed by the human spirit and what can be achieved with the right mindset. I have pushed Jaz out of her comfort zone at times, which in turn has pushed me out of my comfort zone. It has helped me to think outside the box and develop new techniques to benefit not just Jaz, but other clients.
Jaz is continuously teaching me about resilience, determination and trust. She reminds us all to never give up, to dream big and to not take ourselves too seriously.
I think Jaz has taught me many more valuable lessons than I have taught her. Jaz is an amazing young woman and I am blessed to be a part of this journey.
Rod and Jaz are building a video library of her training sessions here.