A whole new lease on life

Ryan’s spinal cord injury occurred over ten years ago when he fell off the 5th floor of a building. However, it was a recent surgery on his arm that created difficulties for him in transferring to and from his wheelchair. Ryan was referred to Royal Rehab where he not only gained strength and skills that have empowered him with higher levels of independence but also discovered a whole new lease on life.

“I had to have some bolts and needles removed from my right arm, and this left it very weak. As I can’t bend my left arm, I really need strength in my right to be able to get around.

I began a ten-week course of occupational therapy and physiotherapy at Royal Rehab as part of the Public Outpatient Service. My initial goal with starting therapy was to improve my transfer skills but I have come away with so much more than that.


The occupational therapist helped me find the best techniques to use given the restrictions of my left arm, and the physiotherapist helped me practise the correct exercises to build up my strength. Both my arms are so much stronger now and I have improved immensely in floor to chair transfers, car transfers and my general wheelchair skills. I am much more mobile and independent now, which is a good feeling. I’m hoping to extend the length of the course and perhaps return to Royal Rehab again later on as I still have a few other goals I want to achieve.

With my NDIS funds, I was able to access further occupational therapy sessions at my home, and my therapist, Sonya, looked in to improving my access at home, for example applying for a disabled parking spot.

All my therapists have been great! They helped me define my goals, which were primarily to work on my wheelchair transfers and mobility, and they had lots of new ideas and techniques I hadn’t thought about. They were very understanding about my specific limitations and had so much helpful information that I’ve been able to use in my day to day activity.

I was also able to access a recreational therapist, with my NDIS funds. Jess was amazing in helping me move forward with rebuilding my life. She suggested I attend the In-Voc program at Sargood on Collaroy, a resort for people with spinal cord injuries operated by Royal Rehab. I attended a four day program that helps people with spinal cord injuries explore their work or study options. It was intense but really beneficial. Sargood is such a beautiful place to stay and the people were really friendly – that includes the staff and the other guests! Everyone was there for the same reason – to get back to work or study.


By the end of the course, we all knew what we wanted to do and how we were going to do it. We all went back to our individual lives afterwards, but with a new group of friends and a bit of a new lease on life. I think I will stay in touch with all the others who attended the course with me.

My plan is to try for a music scholarship at one of the universities as I really want to pursue my love of DJ’ing. There are scholarships available each year for people with a SCI. I also plan to learn more about multimedia – such as Photoshop, music software and so on – as this will fit in nicely with the music course.

“I have a plan now and feel like I can do it. I am so grateful to have attended Royal Rehab – I feel like it has been a turning point in helping me reach my true potential.”