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JohnMy name is John and I am an ex football player who at the age of 21 years, in the early 80s, experienced an acquired brain injury on the football field which has left me physically challenged, some may say disabled. My body is described as being quadriplegic and I am not able to speak at least not without the use of my communication board or device. Although as most would agree, a look and a smile can be the best form of communication!

I live in a beautiful part of the world in the Hunter region of NSW and once enjoyed the picturesque beaches here to the fullest. I surfed, swam and won the coveted NBN Toyota Football Player of the Year Award back in the early 80s.

Being 51 years young, tall and thin I now have a lot of experience with a life of high needs support and its inherent challenges and limitations. Although I am now happily married, I have at times been confronted by the negative aspects shared by so many other people who also require full time and full on support. When you can't speak it is so very difficult to be heard - fortunately, my beautiful wife Janette has been my strongest advocate and ensures I am now listened to.

I was provided some liberation from my many daily limitations by a team of therapists. My main goal has always been to continue to defy the system and with help, one day to be able to walk - it's only with this goal that I've accomplished as much as I've been able to do over these many years.

I met three lovely ladies who have supported me through their roles as physiotherapist, occupational therapist and last but not least speech therapist.

With the help of these professional ladies I have been granted the much longed for access to different modern equipment which has opened up my life again to growth and development. This new electronic communication device has an Australian male's voice which I am glad to hear speaking my words and it also provides me access to a phone, internet and I can even turn the TV on and adjust as needed without asking for help.

I am able to walk two times daily with the support of a frame and an assistant and have worked extremely hard to ensure I maintain this important routine over these many years - which with the aid of assessments for transfers and exercise I am able to continue with.

Being able to use a pivot stand for transfers has limited the negative and unhelpful preference shown in my service provision of hoisting me - a method I find humiliating and unnecessary.

Anyone who is restricted for most of their days to sitting or lying will testify to the problems this can create within the bowel area - this is one of my more important and pressing areas of health and personal concern. Again, this was recognized and assessed by different professionals. My wife enlisted the support of my doctor, a dietitian and also an occupational therapist. The latter has helped me to be funded with a new commode - which can't come soon enough!

I have trialed an electric wheelchair to suit me. Simple equipment functions, like the ability to tilt, is imperative for me. My physiotherapist has taken the time to understand and assess my needs, likes, dislikes, challenges and goals.

With the help of my tireless wife, along with supportive staff, doctor, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist and dietitian I now have revitalized goals towards maintaining and developing my physical abilities. It isn't always easy to access such professional assistance and I know how hard it can be on your own - but it's difficult to keep someone down who is full of determination - following 30 years of intense struggle and the help of those who love me, I'm the living proof of this!