In 1993, Branka was injured in a motorbike accident and sustained injuries to her spinal cord. Branka is an occupational therapy client at IOT. This is her story.

Following a lengthy recovery in a spinal ward in hospital, Branka was ready to start her new life. She had never planned on using an occupational therapist (OT) but to receive much-needed services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a report from an OT was required. Branka reluctantly booked an appointment at IOT to obtain the report and was pleasantly surprised by the service she received from Anna Dodd, an occupational therapist at IOT.

From the first consultation, Branka discovered just how much she could benefit from working with an OT. In addition to the initial assessment and report for the NDIS, Anna was ready to improve Branka’s quality of life.

When Branka met Anna, she had been using her previous wheelchair for almost 15-years. Working with Branka and preferred suppliers, Anna was able to prescribe Branka a manual wheelchair to suit her needs. Throughout the whole process, Branka felt Anna was very caring and knowledgeable;

“Anna worked so beautifully with me and the supplier. Together we worked out what’s best for me… and her attention to detail is so good. She thinks of all the different possibilities and necessities.”

For the first time ever Branka now chooses to continue to sit in the wheelchair because it is so comfortable.

In early 2020, Branka was prescribed a power assist device for her wheelchair and the NDIS granted approval just before the COVID-19 lockdown.

The timing was perfect because during the lockdown Branka home-schooled her 7-year old son and the power assistive device allowed both of them to go for walks and little excursions, making the days spent at home easier.

The power assist device has dramatically increased Branka’s quality of her life because she is now able to go to more places than ever before. Branka loves being active and going on adventures with her young son, so this allowed her to go on longer walks and visit the park.

“I had never been able to move quickly in a chair – and it has changed my life…Anna has given me the opportunity to move.”

Since sustaining her injury and relying on her upper body strength, Branka was diagnosed with bursitis, a painful joint inflammation condition, in her elbows and is unable to lean down. She was prescribed an electric bed which has made it much easier to get in and out of bed while also relieving some of her neuropathic pain.

Branka found Anna to be very knowledgeable about other assistive products available which will further improve her quality of life. Branka is hoping to receive approval for a power assist electric handbike allowing her to go bike riding with her son.

“Anna makes it so relaxing and comfortable. She is attentive, responsive and I feel like I am her only client.”

Branka is also waiting on approval for an off-road power wheelchair so she can go to the beach with her son.

“When my son is at Nippers, I will be able to be on the sand. Currently I have to sit up on the grass and cannot join the other parents who are right there on the beach with their children. It will be a huge improvement when I can join my son on the beach too.”

Branka has found she has more energy and is generally happier. Her enthusiasm for life has increased dramatically and for the first time living feels easier. She has less pain and fatigue and hopes these interventions will increase her body’s longevity.

“I can do so much more… I’m planning adventures with my son.”

Since working with Anna, Branka has discovered the other services IOT provides to NDIS participants and the exciting developments they have underway including the Capacity Building Centre, a neuro-rehabilitation physiotherapy gym.

As a peer and community supports coordinator for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, she is keen to inform and educate others about IOT and its many services.

“It can be difficult to find a gym with equipment that can work for you…I can now inform and recommend an actual disability-specific gym that employs physiotherapists and exercise-physiologists to help people in similar situations to mine.”

I’m pleased to recommend IOT because it seems very friendly, caring and professional. It’s very switched on and shows initiative, such as building a disability-specific gym.