Navigating Life’s Challenges with Claire

A highly successful lawyer for a multinational company, a mum to three young kids, and a wife to husband Curtis – Claire wore many hats when an accident left her with a high-level spinal cord injury.

Life changed dramatically in May 2019 for Claire following a flying-fox accident in a friend’s backyard. She spent 15 weeks in the ICU and the Spinal Unit at Royal North Sore Hospital. Soon after, she was transferred to Royal Rehab’s specialist Spinal Injury Unit.

With no movement below her shoulders, Claire required 24-hour personal care.

“I couldn’t move my arms and hands – it was an incredible shock. However, the team at Royal Rehab worked with me to set goals that were meaningful and help empower me to see a way forward. I wanted to build my strength, get as much movement as possible, and really improve my function in the wheelchair,” said Claire.

A personalised multidisciplinary program was designed to help Claire achieve her goals. This included intensive sessions of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, wheelchair support training, and learning about assistive technology to operate her computer and mobile phone.

Claire also made use of the recreational therapy options on offer at Royal Rehab. Coming from a family of musicians and singers, upon admission, Claire joined a singing group with recreational therapists, nursing staff, friends and family. She was also supported to try sailing – an activity she recognised she can continue with her young family.

“I loved the rec program! I went sailing at Manly a few times, I also enjoyed the water in the hydrotherapy sessions, and I got a lot out of the assistive technology,” said Claire. Assistive technology, supported by the In-Voc team, enabled Claire’s independence and communication both when she was in rehab and since her discharge.

“I don’t think there are many facilities like Royal Rehab out there in Australia, let alone the world. I learnt so much and there’s so much you can absorb in six months that you don’t realise you’ve learnt until you’re out.”

– Claire

With increased strength and improved health, Claire was delighted to return home after a six-month admission to the Spinal Unit. Today, she is enjoying time with her children, and considering different avenues of vocation such as consulting, volunteering, and potentially writing a children’s book.

For more information on the Spinal Injury Unit at Royal Rehab, click here or contact us on (02) 9808 9222.