Tyler has become far more active and now looks forward to getting out into nature making full use of his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support & funding.
The 34-year-old utilises his supports to go mountain biking, hiking, snorkelling and camping in a very in-depth way, helping him to keep his mind and body moving as well as getting out into the community.
He said, “I didn’t realise that I could actually use my funding for these sorts of activities. I am very thankful to have been recommended to talk to OpenTrax, who have opened up a whole new world to me”.
Tyler’s mum, Jan, said the NDIS is allowing Tyler – who has had two strokes and an acquired brain injury – to pursue his goals, find new hobbies and focus on things other than his health issues.
“Before the NDIS, pretty much every cent went into his health needs and nothing was left for anything else,” she said.
“Now with his own money he can do things he wants to do which gives him more independence and ultimately enable him to pick and choose what he wants.”
“He was watching a YouTube video about mountain biking and decided that he wanted to try it.”
“Nothing was going to stop him, initially tried a few outdoor activities with support workers who were happy enough to help, but there were a few safety and knowledge concerns which led us to look for a provider who is qualified in these areas”.
Jan said, “I had heard great things about ‘OpenTrax’ from a few different friends and other parents about a riding program that was being run by a South-East Queensland based allied health company. I did a bit of research and was impressed with the programs that they offered.
“I talked to Chris, a lovely man from OpenTrax, who answered my many questions and gave me much needed reassurance. He explained that he had been a high school PE teacher and had a lot of experience with Outdoor Education centres before becoming an Exercise Physiologist”, Jan said.
“I felt much better about him going out and doing something so ‘out-there’ if it was going to be with qualified OpenTrax Physiologists (AEP’s). I had seen one before for my knee problems before and loved their professionalism and knowledge. Knowing AEP’s run the program put my safety concerns and other worries about the people taking him riding to rest.”
“We applied, waited for a few days, he was accepted into the program on Monday and had his first face-to-face session booked for Wednesday”, she said.
“‘It’s been a few months since he started and he has taken to it all like a duck to water. It still amazes me that his riding started out as a ‘nice idea’ and something for him to do to improve his health and get a bit fitter, and has turned into a passion that I don’t think he will ever stop pursuing!”
With help from OpenTrax, a couple of letters and reports later, Tyler has now purchased his own mountain e-bike, and with his NDIS funding a rack for the back of his car to take it with his new riding friends on trails all over Brisbane and the Gold Coast Hinterland – when he is not learning new skills or going on bigger half-day adventures with his AEP of course.
“We now see his AEP every few weeks who takes him mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and fishing amongst other things; he has the best time because he is doing it with other people.”
“It’s great watching him interact and socialise with other people with these activities, it’s an aspect of his life he has really missed since his injury”.
Last year Tyler went camping with one of the AEP’s and a group with friends to Fraser Island.
“Tyler was able to have a nice day out interacting with others and doing what a normal guy would do. Having that shared experience of being a part of the same program doing the same activity seems to break the ice and make it easier to strike up a conversation,” Janet said.
His love of the great outdoors has also seen Tyler take up photography…and he isn’t half bad!
“Tyler’s AEP comes out at 6 am. They went out for two and a half hours along the waterfront at Manly to ride and take photos; they have even ridden to Redcliffe too,” she said.
“Tyler uses a professional computer program for photo editing and he is saving up to buy his own camera with his own funds soon; a hobby he never would have thought of without the NDIS or having such beautiful scenery to document. He has snapped a few great shots of the wildlife in Karawatha with a background of the sun rising”.
The fact that the OpenTrax staff are so committed to seeing the people they work with improve, has helped both Tyler and Janet to see a direct correlation with Tyler’s improvements since starting.
“The OpenTrax programs are something I’d definitely recommend to anyone who wants to experience plenty of adventure at their own pace, not being rushed or pushed into anything you don’t want to do”, says Tyler.
“It was very eye-opening for me to see how much I had improved over time.”
Program director, Chris Higgins explains why they measure and track outcomes, “Think of it a bit like losing weight…It’s not always easy to see your improvement because the changes are small and incremental and you see, feel and experience these all day, every day. It’s hard to detect that small amount of constant change.
We can look at the data and show someone that they are improving, and by how much. It’s fantastic to be able to show participants, parents, and carers exactly how much someone is improving in their fitness, strength, mental health, anxiety, symptom flare-ups, and so many more aspects.”
“Not only does the data show the participant that what we are doing is measurably improving their lives and it certainly makes securing a participant’s next round of funding significantly easier. When you can show the NDIS that you’ve used ‘X’ amount of funding and it has directly led to ‘Y’ results, they look it as money well spent and it then becomes an investment that they are willing to make again.”
“There are plenty of people out there that offer ‘Mountain Biking’ and other outdoor activities for NDIS participants…unfortunately most of them are unqualified, uninsured, have no formal training about different disabilities or the contraindications that someone’s conditions, medications or physical and mental state factor into the equation. It can go wrong very quickly when a provider doesn’t know what their doing, has not planned everything out, done their risk assessments or have numerous safety processes in place. I’ve seen it happen, it doesn’t end well. You’re better off with a qualified allied health professional who are held to very high professional standards by their governing medical association and Medicare, even if it’s not with Evolution Allied Health as we usually run at max capacity, I’d recommend that people stick with allied health professionals.”
Answering the questions about a range of different areas gives a very accurate idea of how improvement and outcomes are tracking”
“He used to play when he was at school but since his left hand is hard to use since his stroke, he’s needed the NDIS supports to help him re-engage with activities again, and it’s been like a kind of therapy for him.”
Before his stroke, Tyler was studying Engineering at university and is hopeful of going back to studying again soon.
“Tyler is planning on undertaking more studying to enable him to use his knowledge and experience to create adaptive equipment solutions for people with disabilities in the future.”
Tyler received assistance to apply for and implement his NDIS funding from one of the recommended OpenTrax NDIS Local Area Partners in the Community Program for the Brisbane region.
Janet said when Tyler’s Local Area Coordinator (LAC) explained what the NDIS could do for him, she cried.
“Before all this, Tyler was staying at home, with an undesirable future ahead of him, because of his disability; but thanks to OpenTrax and what they do there, now he has all these fantastic strategies in place and his progress speaks for itself,” she said.
“He is going out with friends, playing basketball and going to Bribie for breakfast with friends that he’s met through the programs.
“Tyler has many positives in his life now. He’s now able to live the life he wanted!”
OpenTrax can support you with our many programs. To find out more about OpenTrax NDIS programs, check out www.opentrax.com.au