Robert Van Kuyl became a paraplegic after a helicopter accident four years ago; but with National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports, is working towards his goal of being out of his wheelchair by Christmas.
The 65-year-old from Scarborough keeps busy with exercise therapy, which is helping to improve his strength and ability to walk with crutches.
“My support worker drives me to exercise therapy at Burleigh where I do my two-hour training session,” he said.
“The job they do there is amazing; they push you in that gym and the improvements are mind-blowing.
“I can now stand up in the kitchen and get food ready for cooking independently, can walk 30 metres and getting even better over the last year; I couldn’t do a leg press when I started, but now I can do a 55 kilogram leg press.
“I have to keep my training up to continue to gain arm and leg strength, but also have to be careful not to overdo things too and to know my own body.”
Robert also keeps active in the pool and doing weights to help improve his walking.
A support worker helps Robert stretch in the mornings and get ready for the day, taking him to see friends, do gardening and go to hydrotherapy.
“If I didn’t have this support I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed myself,” he said.
“You have to have a goal and a purpose; mine is to be out of a wheelchair by Christmas and on crutches.”
Robert has also been aided in his recovery after travelling to Germany for a stem cell transplant in 2018.
“The stem cells have opened enough doors to make my life better than it was four years ago, with my exercise therapy helping too.”
Robert said he was an active person before his accident and continues to remain active, going on weekend bike rides, fishing in his boat and travelling in his motorhome.
“Every Sunday I do a bike ride on the Peninsula with my E-Pilot or Ogo,” he said.
“I use my E-Pilot every day to socialise with friends on weekends and pick up the grandkids.
“I also use a Smartdrive which clips on the back of the shaft of my manual wheelchair to use on carpet and in shopping centres to make is so much easier to use my wheelchair.”
Robert’s motorhome has also been adapted to make it easier to get in and out of the vehicle and drive.
“The driver’s seat has been lowered 100mm so I can get into it on one leg and shift my bum on the seat,” he said
“I am now strong enough that I can step in and out of the motorhome and have a hand walker to help walk in the small part of the motorhome; my goal is to be able to get in and out on crutches.”
Robert received assistance to apply for and implement his NDIS funding from Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Moreton Bay region.
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.