PADDY Elliot was a healthy 17-year-old before he was knocked off his motorbike and catapaulted 30 feet into the air.

His crash helmet saved his life, but 24 years on, Paddy, who lives at Spaldwick, still has trouble walking and needs a wheelchair to help him get around.

He is one of a number of people suffering muscular and neurological problems that have discovered a new lease of life at the MS Therapy Centre in Huntingdon.

Since July, Paddy has been attending regular one-to-one sessions with physiotherapist Ben Hawkins. The pair have been working on improving Paddy’s upper body strength, and the results are already clear to see.

Paddy said: “There’s already a big difference. I can now propel myself up the ramp at Chequer’s Court. I couldn’t do that three months ago.

“I can walk about 50 yards. Doctors are not sure whether I have MS or spinal problems of some kind. I have had no definite diagnosis.

“After I got over the effects of the road traffic accident, I started getting other problems. We have been coming her since July.

“I knew the centre existed, but did not realise people with other neurological conditions could come to the centre.”

Ben, a Sheffield Hallam University graduate, is keen to show how physiotherapy can help a range of conditions.

Since June, the 28-year-old has been volunteering at the centre, making the 250 mile round journey from Rothwell two-days-a-week.

But from this week Ben has taken on a paid part-time position, thanks in part to a £10,000 grant from Huntingdon Freemasons Charity.

“Physiotherapy can help a lot of neurological conditions, as well as improving strength abd co-ordination. It can improve muscle flexibility, reduce tiredness in muscles or reduce muscle spasms.

“It can help with a whole range of neurological conditions, such as Parkinsons, stroke, motor neuron disease and more.”

Though physiotherapy is available on the NHS, waiting lists are long and sessions are often classroom-based rather than one-to-one.

At the MS Therapy Centre, physiotherapy sessions are patient-led, which means they are designed around what the patient wants to achieve. They take place in the centre’s gym, which though basic, has dumb-bells and a training bar.

Ben said: “Sometimes there is a perception among patients, they won’t be able to achieve something. It is important to understand the mindset that they come to class with, and to treat the mind with body.”

Centre trustee Martin Slade hopes Ben’s arrival will help boost awareness of the centre.

Though it has existed in Huntingdon since 1985 and moved into its current purpose-built premises in Mayfield Road in 2002, few seem to know of the services available there.

As well as physiotherapy, the centre offers oxygen-therapy in its on-site hyperbaric chamber, reflexology, reiki, shiatsu massage, turning tables and chair aerobics.

It is run independently from the MS Society, and relies entirely on donations and grants to keep it running.

Martin said: “My long-term aim is to open up the centre to more people. There is a big demand out there for the services we offer.

“In Cambridgeshire alone there are 1300 people with MS and at least the same number that have Parkinsons. The NHS have a commitment to provide that service, but they do not have the funding.

“Our long-term aim would be to have more than one physiotherapist working here. We are working towards getting some funding and try to benefit as many people as we can.”

INFORMATION: To find out more go to www.huntsmstc.org.uk or call 01480 458688.