Andrew has come a long way since being diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 28.
After a rapid decline in his strength and mobility rendered Andrew – an accomplished artist – unable to create any major works of art, he was able to secure funding for a mechanical arm support with the help of Living My Way’s Occupational Therapy service.
This piece of assistive technology – funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme – has proved to be a game changer for Andrew, helping him pick up the pencil and paintbrush again and do things he previously wasn’t able to do.
“Now I can play chess without knocking over all the pieces,” said Andrew. “The first time I put the device on, I could reach up and scratch my nose, touch my eye or the top of my head – and I just laughed, I laughed a lot. I can’t believe I had missed out on something so simple.”
The arm support takes away the element of gravity, letting Andrew move his arm freely – an ability that not only lets him more easily go about his day but also enables him to reach new heights in his career as an artist.
But for Andrew, the benefits of his arm support aren’t just about his newfound physical capabilities.
“Loss of identity that comes with the onset of a disability… quite often it’s the things that you do physically that help you form your sense of self.”
Being supported by Living My Way has helped Andrew navigate the complexity of his NDIS funding and plan – support that was essential in helping him obtain his arm support.
“We were able to explain and justify to the NDIS that it’s a cost-effective piece of assistive technology; they approved it straight away,” he said.
These achievements, big and small, are how Helen, Andrew’s Occupational Therapist, finds value in her work.
“Seeing the end outcome and how they can achieve that independence or that happiness or that ability to do things for themselves – that’s what keeps me going,” she said.
Andrew appreciates the freedom and flexibility that Helen encourages. “She lets me think outside the box,” he said.
“I know the throwaway line is choice and control, but really, it has given me a lot of choices and a lot more control.”