Monday, November 8, 2010

Rod Watson - Walk On Client

Rod Watson's speech at the Launch of Walk On Sydney.

Rod giving his speech at the launch.
In October 2008 my life changed forever. I was on my buck’s night due to be married to in 4 weeks. I was riding a dirt bike on my boy’s weekend and I slid over a concealed road and broke my back. I was airlifted to the Alfred hospital in Melbourne where I discovered I had a complete T 12 injury, meaning I have no function below the waist. Needless to say our wedding was cancelled and my future was thrown in chaos. I spent five months in the Austin Hospital and Royal Talbot rehabilitation where at 27 I was told to get used to my chair and prepare for a life as a paraplegic.

Spinal cord injury at times has made me feel alone, depressed and helpless, it robbed me not only of the ability to walk but also the use of many basic functions, taking my dignity and pride. It is a daily struggle to complete even the smallest of tasks and puts a lot of pressure on family and friends, especially of the care giver. Previous to my accident I prided myself on being a good provider I was a strong and capable fitter and turner and welder. I relied on my physical strength not only for my work but also in my recreational activities.

I have always been very active I am not the sort of person to sit around feeling sorry for myself for long. I decided I did not want to except life in a chair and so my recovery and new life began. In March 2009 Danielle and I finally got married and were lucky enough this year after IVF to have a baby. I decided to get out there and give things a go, I tried reflexology, acupuncture, electric stimulation and swimming, as well as a variety of homemade rehabilitation equipment. At the start of 2010 I travelled to Germany to undergo stem cell treatment at the xcell centre in Cologne. Thousands of dollars later I gained some feeling down the sides of my legs and some reflexes, but little else. I needed to do something pro active to try and engage my brain and legs.

We spent a lot of time researching spinal cord injury and stumbled across Project walk in USA and its Australian Partner Walk On in Brisbane. I joined the waiting list in August 2009 and eagerly awaited my turn. When Walk On opened its Sydney facility I was excited to be among one of the first to be part of the home training program. So as a family we made the trip to Sydney from Melbourne.Walk On for me can be described in one word “POSATIVE” . When you have a Spinal Cord injury you hear a lot of no’s from the doctors and physios... “No you can’t” “no you won’t” even “no there is no point” At walk On you never hear the word “no”, the trainers made me feel that anything is possible and encouraged me to trust my body again. They listened and they understood my injury using what function I had to its full potential. I left Sydney feeling both mentally and physically rejuvenated.

I have since been following the program at home with Danielle and feel that I have gained more strength, coordination, core stability and mentally I feel more positive about my future. We are now hoping to help raise the funds needed to bring Walk On to Melbourne so that we can be part of an in house program and continue my rehabilitation closer to home. I believe this program can benefit all SCI patients in some way, both mentally and physically. I know it is a long road but my hope is not only to walk again but to encourage others to be pro active with their rehabilitation. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce's speech at Walk On Sydney Launch

Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce giving her speech at the Walk On launch




Ladies and Gentlemen,

I feel privileged to join you here today for the New South Wales launch of your exceptional Walk On program and to be here as the Patron of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and to let you know how enormously important your work is within the Australian community:

to the more than 400 Australians each year who suffer spinal cord injury and to the families and loved ones who support and care for them. What really strikes me about the Walk On program what impresses and inspires me is its overwhelming and uplifting positivity.

There is no way for me to know the distress and devastation that spinal cord injury occasions to its sufferers men and women going about their daily lives many, many of them at the prime of their health and fitness, their ambition and their optimism about where their relationships, their work and their dreams might take them.

Indiscriminately, instantly, and without notice, their lives are tossed upon foreign tracks. And yet at every point they are the same people. The Walk On program isn't about learning how to manage a crippling injury, how to accept a lifelong disability it's about looking and literally moving beyond injury and disability to reclaim the life you want to lead.

The Governor-General meeting with Board Director David Prast

It's a program that's grounded in rigorous scientific and clinical research and real-life, tangible progress. There are clear and guided steps to get you back on your feet. Practitioners are trained to help you, encourage you, teach you at every point along the way. You learn to trust yourself and your body as you once did. As you work your way though each phase of the exercise for recovery program your nervous system is reactivated nerve fibres begin to regrow and make new connections between the brain and the body gradually, motor power and strength are regained. An extraordinary process of rehabilitation that focuses on the body, but in doing so re-engages confidence, self esteem and hope.

SCIA's introduction of the Walk On program, here in partnership with the University of Sydney integrated with the university's on-site education program for postgraduate exercise specialists from the Faculty of Health Sciences and delivered as a community-based service effectively pulls together all the threads that will ensure its long term sustainability and success. Proven results life-affirming outcomes individuals placed at the centre of care and decision making collaboration with families and the community and a commitment to ongoing research and the pursuit of world-class treatments.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an outstanding and vital initiative deserving our highest praise and support. I am really delighted now to officially launch the Walk On program and to acknowledge the establishment of the first Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and Spinal Cure Australia PhD Scholarship tenable in 2011 for the proper investigation of the physical, social and economic impacts of the program on quality of life and participation.

On behalf of all Australians, my congratulations to the partners - Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, Spinal Cure Australia and the University of Sydney the exercise specialists the student clinicians and our Walk On aspirants and graduates. I hope your steps from here are big and bold and rewarding.

Friends, thank you.

The Governor-General with WO Therapist Kierre & client Angel

Walk On Sydney Launch - 3rd Nov 2010

Wednesday, 3rd November was a beautiful day to celebrate an exciting milestone in the history of Walk On. The Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, officially launched the first NSW Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) 'Walk On' Program in a ceremony held at the University of Sydney, Lidcombe where Walk On Sydney is based.

The Walk On program, which focuses on maximising functional recovery through exercise, is delivered by therapists at the University of Sydney's Faculty of Health Sciences under a unique partnership arrangement which embeds community-based service delivery into teaching and research.

Dean of Health Sciences, Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn said: "The partnership allows us to offer this vital service to the community while also introducing our students to cutting-edge exercise rehabilitation techniques and research.

NSW Walk On Therapist Kierre Ireland said clients have already travelled from as far as Western Australia and New Zealand to take part in the program. "This isn't surprising as intensive exercise through the Walk On program provides an unprecedented opportunity for continued functional improvement post hospital rehabilitation," she said.

"Our clients range from young children to older adults and while not all of them will walk again, recovering the slightest movements can drastically improve the quality of life and independence of these individuals and have huge benefits for families."

Rod Watson is one such client. Whilst on his buck's afternoon with his mates, five weeks out from his wedding, Rod came off his trail bike and suffered a T12 complete spinal injury. He spent five months in hospital where he was taught everything he needed to know about living and accepting his future in a wheelchair. This was one of the hardest times for Rod who before his accident was a welder by trade and self confessed sport enthusiast, racing motorcycles and drag cars.
Rod heard about Walk On in the hospital where he was doing rehab. He met a couple of people who had been and he knew he wanted to be a part of it. Earlier this year he attended Walk On for a 10 day program and was amazed by the results. "For a paralysed person to improve in just 10 days, it was unbelievable," he said.

"I gained more strength, more coordination and more core stability and just felt more mentally positive about my future after Walk On. It gave me something to look forward to, it gave me hope."

Speeches from The Governor-General, and clients Rod Watson and Tony Glashoff will be posted shortly.