Young worker Luke Walker remains positive after suffering electric shock and associated brain injury. When Luke Walker is questioned about what happened to him the day he climbed into the roof to help his father on an electrical job, he says “I don’t remember.”
Luke doesn’t just have a bad memory; he has short-term memory loss from an acquired brain injury, caused when he suffered an electric shock on that life-changing day at work. Luke developed hypoxia – oxygen deprivation to the brain – which left lasting consequences.
“My heart stopped for quite a while, and my breathing, but then the ambos arrived and gave me CPR, and took me to the hospital.”
Luke was just 21 when the accident occurred, and he occasionally helped his father – a commercial refrigeration mechanic – whenever he needed a hand.
“When I woke up from the coma (which lasted three days) my speech and motor skills were shot.”
Luke was in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for three weeks. When he first came out of the coma, he couldn’t move at all – or speak. Within a few days, movement started to return, and by the time he left the hospital he could walk, with support.
He then went to Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre to begin five long weeks of intensive therapy.
While he worked hard to regain his physical strength and motor skills, along with his speech, it was the memory loss that made things most difficult for Luke. For example, he couldn’t find his way back to his room at the rehabilitation centre each day!
“The biggest thing has been the short-term memory loss. It’s getting better, slowly,” he says. “As my energy has come back, it’s gotten easier. It’ll take time, but eventually I should get my memory back.
Luke’s accident occurred in November 2006, and it’s taken since then for his energy to fully come back.
“It’s the simple things that are annoying. Like, my friends will organise something for the weekend, and I find it really difficult to remember. My mum helps with that though, she’s my social secretary!”
Luke has worked with an occupational therapist to help him better manage his daily activities. His WorkCover case manager helped to set up this service. “My case manager’s been great organising things for me,” says Luke.
Luke began a work conditioning stint as a labourer, doing half a day a week, and gradually building up to a regular position doing three and half days a week. The work has been a kind of therapy for him, gradually building his strength.
Recently however, he’s stopped working in order to focus on his university studies. He is undertaking a bachelor degree in building and construction management, and economics. He is given support in the form of a note-taker, due to the accident having affected his ability to take notes at speed for himself.
Luke sees himself as a positive type of person, and believes that this has aided in his recovery.
“If you can’t rely on yourself, you have to rely on others. And others won’t always be there. So I work hard to regain what I can to help myself.
“But the most important thing I have learned is to be patient. I have to tell myself that over and over. I wasn’t that way before, but I’ve had to learn to be.”