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ChristineI have had limited use of my arms and legs since contracting polio as a tiny tot in 1951, so various allied heath professionals have come in and out of my life whenever there was a major change in my circumstances.

Back in the mid-1950s physiotherapy featured heavily when I was learning to take baby steps using cumbersome calipers and crutches. In addition to slowly teaching me to walk, physios also taught me to fall safely and to climb stairs. By the mid-1960s I had recovered as much strength as I ever would.

My physical condition remained reasonably stable for several decades, until the gradual onset of post polio symptoms such as heightened fatigue and increased bodily pain. Occupational therapists (OTs) and physios urged me to slow down and pace my activities so as not to wear myself out prematurely.

By the end of the 1990s it was becoming difficult and dangerous to continue struggling on calipers and crutches, so I visited an Independent Living Centre with a supportive OT who gently persuaded me to trial a powered wheelchair. As soon as I sat in it I knew this was for me, and thus safety and mobility would soon be restored.

With great joy some months later I took delivery of what my husband would call my very own Red Ferrari, largely funded under a government scheme. This wheelchair opened up a new world of public transport, where I would meet many interesting bus drivers and train drivers, as well as fellow commuters. I also now had the energy to continue my voluntary community work.

This whiz-bang mobility aid also allowed me to independently visit my husband in hospital each day during the final weeks of his life. Following his death, a further OT assessment lead to the approval of a package that provided financial resources for additional supports (such as lawn mowing, shopping, dog walking) that would allow me to live at home on my own.

I am now entering the next phase of my life. It is becoming much harder to shower and dress myself safely, so I await OT assessment for personal care. But, there is nothing to fear.