Wednesday, 11 September 2019, 4:33 pm
The power of goals
Kevin was an active and social 20-year old; studying for a Bachelor of Applied Science in Exercise Physiology at the University of Sydney, balancing an internship with the Sydney University Football Club whilst simultaneously working two jobs as a swimming coach and a bicycle salesman – when his life took a catastrophic turn.
In May 2012, Kevin went cycling with a colleague when his road bike inadvertently struck a pothole, sending him off his bike landing headfirst onto the other side of the road. Despite wearing a helmet, the impact of the accident left Kevin with a severe traumatic brain injury.
Kevin spent time in acute care at Royal North Shore Hospital before being transferred to Royal Rehab for specialist brain injury rehabilitation.
The highly skilled multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals at Royal Rehab’s Brain Injury Unit include rehabilitation specialists, nurses and allied health professionals across a range of disciplines. Here, a tailored goal-based rehabilitation program was designed for Kevin, incorporating an array of on-site resources such as the gymnasium and adaptive exercise equipment. Specialist rehabilitation is vital to support patients to relearn basic skills, and regain function, and acquire as much independence as possible.
“It was like beginning life again from square one. I pretty much had lost 20 years’ worth of life skills.”
Every day at Royal Rehab was a series of intensive rehabilitation sessions to get Kevin back on his feet and doing performing everyday activities of daily living. The skill to understand, speak, stand, walk, and even eat, Kevin had to regain in order to live as independently as possible again.
“Those small things that everyone takes for granted mean a lot more when you can’t do them,” said Kevin.
“From personal experience, the most minute of improvements or shift in perspective after an injury, can change not only your ongoing beliefs and actions in life, but those of the support network around you.”
Unfortunately, Kevin’s rehabilitation progress was stalled as he faced multiple complications including an infected cranioplasty (skull reconstruction) which required further surgery with the removal of his prosthetic skull. At this point, doctors advised Kevin and his family that his future was likely to mean long-term dependent care.
In late 2013, Kevin underwent his tenth surgery for the second prosthetic skull insertion. This time, the transplant was more successful, and Kevin started to recover post-surgery.
Throughout his 18 months at Royal Rehab, the dedicated multidisciplinary team of allied health professionals worked with Kevin to regain function, life skills and independence. Kevin continued his rehabilitation as an outpatient at Royal Rehab as he continued to celebrate major milestones like being able to remember invaluable information, retain memories once again, and progress from sitting in a powered wheelchair to running in marathons.
Being an avid cyclist prior to injury, Kevin was unable to return to cycling in his former capacity and the risk of causing further injury was significantly high. This however didn’t stop Kevin in pursuing his personal goals and he decided to endeavour upon long distance running as his form of finding transcendence. Kevin has made a remarkable recovery and has been participating in running events across Australia and overseas.
Kevin has also used his experience to support other brain injury clients in their rehabilitative journeys, having volunteered in Royal Rehab’s High Mobility Group sessions and shared his story in guest speaking opportunities at events such as the Royal Rehab Gala and City of Ryde Volunteer Recognition Awards. He has since resumed his studies in Exercise Physiology at the University of Sydney.
Rehabilitation and recovery are an ongoing process of learning and discovery. Having faced the odds and overcome countless obstacles, Kevin has emerged with a renewed appreciation of life.
“Trauma can change a person in fundamental ways – it can change an individual’s inner strength, make small things in life more meaningful, or redirect aspects of one’s life to find more realistic, rewarding goals. It seems that all applied to me!”
Kevin has now participated in long distance running events, his latest the 60 km Ultra Marathon along Australia’s most scenic Great Ocean Road. He has and does continue to remain the same man after his injury and is pursuing his goals and dreams in spite of his injury.