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A farmer inspecting some cows

Back in the saddle after injury

Rethinking disability sometimes requires a creative approach. Let’s explore how assistive technology allowed Ray to stay working on the farm.

Ray is a 59 year old horse trainer and cattle farmer. He has lived his entire life on a large farm located 20 minutes from a small country town in Australia. Ray is passionate about the land and very good at what he does. Apart from the enormous responsibility of a large working farm, he also cares for hundreds of animals. The farm is the only source of income for him and his family.

In a tractor accident, Ray sustained a complete L1 spinal cord injury, which means he’s now paralysed and has lost the use of his legs. Ray is geographically isolated and has never worked with computers. His prospects for alternative work are limited. The animals, the farm and his family are depending on him.

Ray was in hospital recovering for over four months and now faces life on a farm in a wheelchair.

What to do?

Meeting with a Rehabilitation Counsellor after his injury, he said ‘I may as well just curl up and die if I can’t do some sort of work’. The Rehabilitation Counsellor worked with him to identify and systematically achieve his goals for returning to work. The most obvious issues related to his mobility and independence.

The result?

With the support and encouragement of his Rehabilitation Counsellor, Ray returned to active work on his land. He shifted the focus of his horse training work, choosing horses that are more predictable. He’s also currently in the process of considering a more suitable sideline business to redirect his talent to breeding working dogs on the property.

The Rehabilitation Counsellor assisted Ray to apply for funding for the following assistive aids that have allowed him to be ‘back on his feet’ and working at least 25-30 hours per week.

  • Action Trackstander
  • Modified horse riding saddle
  • Cooling vest
  • Solar pump and solar gate openers
  • Emergency satellite phone
  • Modified Kubota ATV (all-terrain vehicle)

If you’re curious about what an ATV is and how it can be modified, watch the following video. It shows an example similar to Ray’s, modified for a wheelchair user in the USA.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Your task

Ray has an excellent work ethic and a can-do approach to life. With the right assistive devices, there was no stopping him. Select the comments link and post your thoughts and experiences on the power of positive thinking and a solution-focused approach following a life changing injury. We also encourage you to share one idea for helping someone shift their mindset from negative to positive.

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This article is from the free online course:

Realising Career Potential: Rethinking Disability

Griffith University