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“Life changing” diagnosis inspires new vocation for championship footballer

When former Blackburn Rovers and Burnley midfielder Len Johnrose was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, it set him on a path to a new vocation.

len johnrose

The 49 year-old had already retrained as a teacher. After being told he had the terminal illness, he has set up Project 92, to educate others about the condition, particularly the risk to professional sports people.

“You have to get on with life,” he says matter-of-factly. “I wouldn’t have done anything differently. By nature I am a talker, and love all aspects of learning. I’ve learnt a lot since being diagnosed, about the disease and what causes it, myself, and living with disability- its physical and mental impact. MND affects 1:300 adults, but studies suggest that those who sustained repeated blows to the head and spine in top-level sport are more than eight times more likely than an ‘average’ person to develop the disease. It needs to be talked about.”

One of the aspects he has learnt, and which he talks openly about, is how to deal with daily life, particularly the basics of personal hygiene. 

lenm johnroses PV“One thing I said to myself was the minute I couldn’t wipe my bum, that would be it,” observed Len. “It was becoming a problem: I have lost a lot of strength, and can’t move as you need to when you’re on the toilet. It’s a case of finding a way to carry on.”

On the advice of his Occupational Therapist, the bathroom at his home in Preston has been converted into a wetroom, and, with help from the Professional Footballers’ Association, his WC changed for a Closomat Palma Vita shower (wash dry) toilet, with touch sensitive switch.

Looking like, and capable of being used as a conventional toilet, the Closomat features integrated douching and drying. There is therefore no need to manually wipe clean.

“It is absolutely brilliant. I just tap the touch sensitive switch, and that triggers the functions to clean me. It is so simple to use. For me, it has made a huge difference,” says Len.

Further reading: https://www.closomat.co.uk/palma-vita.html


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