Josh Gough opens new kitchen at Prince of Wales Hospital

Josh Gough at the opening of the new kitchens at the Spinal Injury and General Rehab wards at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

Josh Gough at the opening of the new kitchens at the Spinal Injury and General Rehab wards at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

Don’t mention arm cycling to Josh Gough.

“I hate it with a passion,” the Edensor Park resident said. ‘I definitely hated that the most.”

For good reason too. For the best part of 10-months it was one of the exercises he needed to complete at the Spinal Injury and General Rehab ward at the Prince of Wales Hospital.  

Every day. Every single day

Occupational therapy and physiotherapy have become Josh’s main focus since doctors found an abscess on his spinal cord in September last year leaving him in a wheelchair.

The abscess wasn’t just on his spinal cord. It was wrapped around it and squeezing on it which ultimately caused the paralysis.

After emergency surgery he spent a month in Liverpool Hospital before being admitted to the Spinal Injury and General Rehab ward on October 6.

Apart from the arm cycling, there was another thing he tired to avoid: the kitchen.

“I tried to use it occasionally, but it was a bit hard to get close enough to the sink,” he said.

Josh Gough inspects the new kitchen.

Josh Gough inspects the new kitchen.

That has all changed.

Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation in partnership with 3Bridges Community unveiled two new kitchens at the ward last week to coincide with Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week.

The new kitchens are designed to transform the experience at the hospital for patients like Josh, who endure extensive stays at the hospital in rehab.

The kitchens are not only logistically better for people in wheelchairs but a place for patients to socialise.

“They are a lot more wheelchair accessible. That’s the biggest difference,” Mr Gough said of the new kitchens.

“You can pull the cabinets out towards you instead the ones you swing out and one of the benches you can lower and raise with a touch of a button, which makes it easier.

“There is also a lot more space under the sink so people in a wheel chair can get in and get their water or make a coffee.”

Josh is now home after being discharged from hospital on July 17.

But his journey has only just begun.

It’s a journey that began because he hurt his ribs and was checking to see how long it would take to return to martial arts. That led to severe back pain and not being able to feel his legs.

Josh Gough with chief executive of 3Bridges Rosemary Bishop, Coogee MP Bruce-Notley Smith, chief executive of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation Leanne Zalapa and General Manager of The Prince of Wales Hospital Tobi Wilson.

Josh Gough with chief executive of 3Bridges Rosemary Bishop, Coogee MP Bruce-Notley Smith, chief executive of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation Leanne Zalapa and General Manager of The Prince of Wales Hospital Tobi Wilson.

Now he has one goal.

“My belief from day one is I will walk again,” he said.

“Hard work pays off and I have done a lot of rehab. The body has to reboot itself and I have to learn to manage certain things. My main priority is getting back on my feet.”

Josh, who used to work as a warehouse packer, is studying a diploma in logistics while he continues his rehab.

That includes building his upper body strength so he can transfer from the wheelchair and learning to roll.

The exercises also continue. No more arm cycling, but plenty of other things he does daily including sitting in the wheelchair and picking things up from the floor and laying on his back and lifting his hips.

“My favourite exercise is where the wheelchair is in front of me with the brakes on and I hold onto the handles to push and stand up to use my legs,” he said.