Bumping into a rehabilitation patient after 20 years

I was lucky enough to re-engage with an old rehabilitation client (and friend). Some of you may have remembered the accident of Brad Ness who lost his leg whilst working on the Rottnest Ferries twelve days before Christmas about 20 odd years ago.

Funnily enough, Brad and I reacquainted recently twice in two weeks. The first was on a flight returning to our home-town Perth and the second was at an Awards night where unknowingly to me he was the Master of Ceremonies at the Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association. At the Awards night, it was quite a humble experience that he spoke about his workplace injury and his rehabilitation programme that he completed. Needless to say, I didn’t realise how much of an influence I had on his recovery, his return to normal living and returning to work within 12 weeks back at preinjury work within 6 months after losing his leg from the knee down.

Following the awards night Brad agreed to tell his story about his injury, subsequent recovery and the implementation of exercise rehabilitation. Our business development manager Alison had the privilege of interviewing Brad. Recently having the opportunity to listen to the recording, I again was left quite inspired by the impact we as Exercise Physiologists have on people’s lives after sustaining such a debilitating injury.

Brad mentions in his interview that it was the small steps gained session by session, our “can do” attitude and thinking outside the box to implement appropriate exercise strategies. One particular that comes to mind was managing the swelling and the atrophy of Brad’s leg during his exercise and recovery during the fitting of the prosthesis. This certainly created challenges as we had blistering from the new weight driven through into the prosthesis coupled with sweat from exercising, as well as restabilising neuromuscular pathways and associated proprioception.

Since his accident and through his tenacious drive, Brad has been extremely successful as a Paralympian representing Australia, winning a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, and silver medals at the 2004 Athens and 2012 London Paralympics. He was also the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Brad these days now coaches and mentors young AIS and WAIS para-athletes, amongst other things is expecting his second child very soon.

Listening to the interview, it was evident that exercise physiology has a critical and pivotal part of the return to work process no matter what the extent of the injury but more so, it provides the foundations to establish a return to a meaningful life.

It was a pleasure to be a part of Brad’s journey.

Derek Knox |B.Sc. – Sports | MBA|

Director – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)