Story1 Our Origins
A care technique designed after the developer experienced a stroke himself, and was left needing care after his left side became paralyzed.
CEO, One to One Welfare Education Academy
Visiting Professor, Saitama Medical University
Originating in a sudden tragedy...
I experienced a stroke more than a decade ago, in my late 30s.
I woke up in the morning with extreme dizziness and ringing in my ears, and a headache unlike anything I had experienced before. When I went into the living room on the 2nd floor of our house everything went red; I collapsed and lost consciousness.
My wife called 119 and requested an ambulance. I was admitted into the ICU.
I was full unconscious for three days.
My consciousness returned three days later, but I had no idea where I was, and I had no memory of what had happened.
I realized that the entire left side of my body had pins and needles and I could not move it. I wondered if I had had a major accident or been involved in a traffic collision, and tried hard to remember, but I had no memory of what had happened.
In a coma for three days
I had such bad pins and needles in my left side that I wondered if my left leg had been amputated. I wanted to look for my leg, but when I tried to move the blanket over my body with my right arm, I realized I could not muster the strength to move at all.
As I had no feeling in the left side of my body – it was as though I had been anesthetized – I was overwhelmed by fear in regard to what had actually happened to me. At that point a nurse came over and explained that I had been in a coma for three days.
The nurse told me that the doctor was coming to see me.
Left side paralysis leading to the need for care
The doctor checked my pupils, listened to my chest, and said
"Mr. Nezu, you've had a cerebral infarction.
Firstly, you need to accept this fact.
It's very important that you accept yourself.
And you need to learn to sit in a wheelchair."
I was filled with panic at the thought of how I was going to face the future if I had to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair… Having suffered a cerebral infarction in my late 30s, I had no idea what my future held.
The terrible reality that awaited us
At the time, my wife and I had just had a baby.
My wife had a severe hernia and was unable to give birth naturally. We had been told by doctors that we should give up the idea of having children.
Furthermore, my mother needed a lot of care, and my wife's mother was caring for her own mother. We had no-one on whom we could depend as a family.
As a result, my wife not only had to take care of a newborn, but also had to care for me while having a hernia.
The care technique designed as a means of survival
I was faced with no choice but to invent a method by which my wife could care for me without placing a burden on her lower back, and without requiring her to use physical strength.
This method became the only way that we could survive as a family. If a burden was placed on my wife's lower back it may literally have resulted in both myself and our baby being unable to carry on living.
We were living through hell every day.
I had two wishes – to hold my baby once again, and to allow my wife to live day-to-day without being a burden on her. As such, I developed a care technique that could be implemented with one arm, and without placing any burden on the lower back. It was a matter of survival for our family.
A past I'd rather forget
In fact, neither I nor any member of my family talked about this care technique for over 10 years.
This was because we were literally living on the brink of life and death, and I developed the technique while undergoing horrendous rehabilitation training. We had zero desire to publicize our "care technique that could be implemented with one arm, and without placing any burden on the lower back".
The care home for the elderly that I had built relied largely on human strength for its care work – known as "Power Care" - and I had no energy to invest in improving this situation.
The few years I spent recovering after the stroke were a period I simply wanted to forget, and I had zero desire to talk to anyone about them. As a result, even my care staff and managers knew very little about what went on.
My meeting with an elderly couple struggling with care issues
As it happens, however, a public sector organization had asked me a few years earlier to give a lecture on "care with a reduced physical burden".
I had intended to turn them down, but as the request had come directly from an employee who worked with the public sector, I felt obliged to accept it.
On the day of the lecture, I headed for the venue.
One of the people who had come to attend the lecture, an elderly lady, came up to me and asked "Professor, will I be able to look after my husband after hearing your talk? I came because I am really grasping at straws..." I saw that she was accompanied by a well-built, elderly gentleman in a wheelchair.
The lady said to me "This is my husband. He is more than 180cm tall and well-built, so it's almost impossible for me to care for him. I can help him some days, but not on others. On some days, my back just hurts too much and I am not able to look after him. Can you teach me how I can care for him with less of a physical burden?"
My desire to help an elderly couple
I asked the person responsible for organizing the lecture if I could use this couple as an example.
The person responsible for the lecture checked with the family, who gave their permission, and I was able to use the couple as models.
As a result, the lady became able to lift her well-built husband easily, and help him to stand up.
Until that point, they had struggled to get him into his wheelchair, but by using this technique it became much easier for them. With tears in her eyes, the lady told me "I can't believe it's this easy to move him".
The moment I realized this was my destiny
At the end of my lecture the lady passed me a piece of paper.
The piece of paper was in fact an application to a care home.
She told me "My husband and I saw this lecture as our last hope. If we couldn't find a solution to our care problems here we were going to go straight to a care home. But having heard your lecture, I don't need to put him into a home. I am hopeful now that I will be able to care for him right to the end". She shook my hand and thanked me over and over again with tears in her eyes.
In that moment, I renamed the method that had helped my family survive "the care technique that can be implemented with one arm, and without placing any burden on the lower back", and I decided I would publish it to the world.
From then on, I would always look back at that moment as the point at which I felt my purpose was to spend the rest of my life – which had been given back to me – paying this knowledge forward.
My hopes for the care workplace
The care profession as a rule still relies nowadays on physical strength ("power care").
Even in my Academy, induction training for staff working in care still involves learning about power care techniques.
Many staff who are engaged in care work struggle for years with lower back pain, and in some cases staff leave the profession because of it. It often happens just a few years after they take up care as a profession.
A desire to solve the problem of "care work = back pain"
Through adopting our family's "care technique that can be implemented with one arm, and without placing any burden on the lower back", however, this lower back pain can be improved, and people become able to implement care without having to use physical strength. Since this reduces the burden not only on staff but on those being cared for, it makes the whole process of care much easier and allows people to enjoy their lives more.
I am hopeful that "the care technique that can be implemented with one arm, and without placing any burden on the lower back" will become better known and utilized throughout the world, and I believe it is my destiny to continue to speak about it.
I want to continue to speak about it throughout Japan, and to bring light to those who are struggling with the physical demands of care work.
Story2 Future Issues
The problem of "Rehabilitation Refugees" as I experienced it as a stage 4 cancer patient, and the importance of "Regenerative Caregiving"
I am now in my 60s and battling stage 4 cancer.
When I left hospital, I found that there was no rehabilitation center for cancer patients, and I became a "Rehabilitation Refugee".
This lack of rehabilitation provision for cancer patients is an issue not only in Japan but throughout the world. I have realized there is an urgent need to seamlessly link medical treatment and care, and to provide a rehabilitation system that assists patients to maintain, recover and improve physical function.
I have stage 4 cancer which has recurred and metastasized multiple times.
I have undergone five operations.
In the last operation, there was a danger that my carotid artery may rupture with fatal consequences, and so some of my right side chest muscles were transplanted to my neck.
I had to start rehabilitation training immediately after the operation in order to prevent my right chest from becoming paralyzed, but the pain was intense and I felt as though I was in hell.
In my 30s I suffered a cerebral infarction which left me half paralyzed and resulted in the loss of strength in my left hand, but this time, I had undergone a transplant of the muscles in the right of my chest in order to save my life, and as a result I lost the strength in my right hand too.
I was able to take part in rehabilitation while hospitalized, but once I left hospital there was no facility that could offer me rehabilitation for my cancer symptoms.
Undertaking the rehabilitation on my own was a daily battle with pain. It's simply impossible for a cancer patient to embark on rehabilitation training by themselves.
Just like me, there are many cancer patients who cannot find a rehabilitation facility, and become detached from any support, with the result that they lose any hope of recovering and improving physical function.
Once a patient falls into a state of requiring care, their bodies quickly start to lose function, and they often give up.
I have experienced this sense of becoming detached from support as a cancer patient, and struggling with the need for care. I realized that for cancer patients who do not have access to rehabilitation facilities, it was important to devise a "Comprehensive Cancer Rehabilitation System", and to offer hope to people who may otherwise have given up that they can be reborn. As such, I have developed a system known as "Regenerative Caregiving", and I want to share it throughout the world with cancer patients and those who need care.
"Regenerative Caregiving" - the new key word that offers hope of maintaining, improving and recovering physical function in persons requiring care and cancer patients.
1. Rehabilitation Refugees
Cancer patients who experience a reduction or loss in physical function can receive help with rehabilitation training while hospitalized, but once they leave hospital there is no system and no facilities for them to engage in rehabilitation. As a result, many cancer patients lose their way once they leave hospital.
Furthermore, even if their cancer treatment has ended when they leave hospital, they often cannot function in daily life in the same way as they could beforehand. Since they now need care, they are likely to become "Rehabilitation Refugees".
2. Regenerative Caregiving
People are struggling with these issues all over the world. We plan to create a system that will integrate
1) Maintenance of physical function 2) Improvements in physical function 3) Recovery of physical function and 4) "Nezushiki Kaigogijutsu", to allow cancer patients and others requiring care to transfer seamlessly from hospital to home, and from medical treatment to care.
Through helping people who have lost the opportunity to undergo rehabilitation and have therefore lost hope of recovering physical function through rehabilitation training, and through the introduction of "Nezushiki Kaigogijutsu", we believe that patients who have given up hope of being able to move around will once again be able to go where they want to go, even while requiring care. This is possible due to "Regenerative Caregiving".