About five years ago, Brad was in a serious motorbike accident that left him injured and with a neurological disorder which required specialist treatment. He spent a long time going between hospitals and for three years of his life was non-verbal, being peg fed, and was aided by specialist equipment to help him go to the bathroom.
Last year, he and his family sought more support to redevelop his communication skills, build his strength, and regain some of his independence. Brad and his family looked to Ability Options. Recently, Brad sat down and, with the guidance of his mum and Support Workers, shared his story with us. This is his story.
“About five years ago, I had an accident which changed my life. I was in an accident that left me non-verbal and with a brain injury. I was in intensive care for nine weeks and received a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt, which is a device that helps the body drain excess cerebral fluid when there is a flow obstruction or decreased absorption of the fluid.
After that, I moved into Royal Rehab’s Brain Injury Unit for eight months. I then went back to hospital for 11 months before moving again to Coffs Harbour, where I spent three years with Support Workers in a home by myself. This treatment was quite medically-based and I felt I wasn’t reaching any of my goals. I was having a really difficult time.
After more long stints in hospitals, and some accommodation arrangements falling through, I came into Ability Options supported living accommodation services last August as a different, and frustrated person to who I used to be. I was very withdrawn with my communication and interaction skills, and I struggled to complete most tasks without assistance or input from my support workers.
I worked with two physiotherapists who helped me build my strength back up so I could do some of the things I love to do, and some of the things I used to do. I started off focussing on rebuilding my core strength so I could sit upright on my own again without assistance.
Physiotherapy helped me a lot. I can shave my own face again, attend to my own personal care with little prompting, and feed myself meals. I can now sit on the side of my bed by myself and play games I like with staff. This was the first step to meeting my goals.
I next focussed on my communication skills. It took some time, but with the help of my mum, my support workers, house manager Kaitlyn, and the physios, I worked through these challenges. I have also received regular behaviour support which has helped me improve my communication skills and become more independent that way. I can now ask for time to myself and breaks in daily tasks without becoming upset and angry with my support staff.
I have been attending outings in the community with my Support Workers three times a week and have regular engagement and visits with my family every fortnight.
My support team came together to support me to grow my independence after my injury. So, in July this year, I was supported to trial steering and controlling my wheelchair myself and received an iPad to assist with my communication. I also started attending outings to the equine therapy centre in Port Macquarie to assist with feeding the horses and hopefully interact with people my age and make some friendships.
Without the support of my Ability Options support network, my mum, and the team at my home, I would not have been able to achieve any of my goals.”
Brad’s mum, Karen, said she has seen her son make amazing progress since coming into Ability Options’ care.
“I would say since Brad came to Ability Options, he has made amazing progress and I couldn’t speak highly enough of his Support Workers and everyone involved in his care,” she said.
“Everyone is so professional and respectful, and it gives me peace of mind knowing my son has a safe and happy environment to live.”