Mark has gone from sustaining severe injuries in a bicycle accident three years ago to recently completing a 54-kilometre walk, an achievement the Brisbane local says could not have happened without the support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The 50-year-old came off his bike when riding with friends in March 2019, then spent seven weeks in hospital rehabilitating himself and learning to walk again with the guidance of Queensland Health.
With the assistance of his Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) physiotherapists and social workers, Mark secured his NDIS plan four months after his accident.
With the support of Carers Queensland’s NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Brisbane region, Mark then began to implement his funding.
“The NDIS has been vital to my progress towards my mobility and life goals,” Mark said.
“I aim for three hours per week physiotherapy support; typically one hour of manipulation to address my areas of discomfort, one hour of small group clinical pilates working on balance and strength, and one hour with a neurophysio to improve my gait pattern as I continue to re-learn how to walk more effectively.”
Mark’s physiotherapist helped him plan and prepare for his goal of tackling the Three Capes Walk in Tasmania, encompassing 54 kilometres spread over four days while carrying a nine-kilogram pack.
“Because of the weight of the backpack and the elevation changes, I had to use walking poles the whole way. It took me two months to fully recover,” he said.
Before the walk, Mark undertook a Functional Gait Test which showed he had reached 50 per cent functional walking mobility.
“This is representative of how I feel when I walk. For example, I feel my maximum speed is now about half my pre-injury walking pace, although carrying any load makes that gap feel much greater,” he said.
Mark describes the NDIS as invaluable, enabling him to progress towards his functional improvement goals with an enormous added benefit to his mindset.
“Without the NDIS I’d have a vastly different walking gait and capability,” Mark said.
“I would never have had the confidence to attempt that walk in December and (I’ll) be able to cherish forever the satisfaction I felt as I stood above those Tasman Peninsular views that had been my stretch target for 15 months.
“Quite simply, my life would not be the same without the NDIS.”
“In the middle of 2020 I wrote a couple of online articles and people started to say ‘you should speak and write about this more’,” Mark said.
“It took a few months to gain the confidence and momentum to give that a crack. I was comfortable with writing short pieces, but a book felt beyond my physical capacity.”
While speaking about the impact of the accident was still emotionally raw for Mark, with the encouragement of friends, he made the decision to write a book and trial public speaking.
“My first public speech was at 5am to members of the senior school AFL squad at Villanova College, where my boys attended,” Mark said.
“I was extremely nervous, but I got over the threshold. With practise I got more comfortable re-telling my story.
“In May 2021 a publisher picked up my draft manuscript and encouraged me to put additional effort into it. With her team’s guidance I refined my writing style so readers feel like they are alongside me on my journey. Overall, it took pretty much a whole year to generate the book and I loved the writing experience.
“Whilst I was writing the book, I picked up some trial speaking engagements which allowed me to refine my material, including at QUT (Queensland University of Technology). I was still developing my craft, but the audience connection felt great.
“From there, I was invited to online Q&A sessions, and recently did a resilience session with 35 senior finance people from Rio Tinto, receiving very uplifting feedback.”
Mark said he is enjoying promoting his book and giving people hope with a positive attitude.
“Just like my own recovery, I can’t control the outcomes, but I can control the way I tackle the situation,” he said.
“I am seeking to help people in need – as I was helped – and I am fortunate to have found a platform to achieve that. I am determined to grasp this opportunity to speak and write about my journey to assist others to find their possibility.”
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.
You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, or firstname.lastname@example.org.