Occupational therapists help former Paralympian live independently

Man in wheelchair wearing Paralympic medals with two occupational therapists
Kevin Cunningham shows off his Paralympic Medals to his occupational therapists during his stay at RGH
October 26, 2020

After a seven-week stay in Rockingham General Hospital (RGH), former Paralympian Kevin Cunningham is enjoying spending time with friends again in the hobby shed at his retirement village.

Kevin became a T11 paraplegic following a motor vehicle accident in 1957 where he was told he would ‘never walk again’. Seven months later he walked out of hospital and went on to compete in the Paralympic Games as a track and field and basketball athlete. He competed in Rome, Jamaica, Edinburgh, Israel and Perth. 

As Kevin has aged, he has experienced a gradual decline in his function and mobility. With the support of the Occupational Therapy Home Visiting Service at Mandurah Community Health Centre, Kevin transitioned into a wheelchair 15 years ago and has been supported to live as independently as possible in the community with the use of assistive equipment in a modified home environment.

Kevin’s most recent visit to RGH saw him transitioning from the Intensive Care Unit, to the Medical Ward and finally the Aged Care Rehabilitation Unit where he was supported by occupational therapists with pressure care devices, functional transfer practice and rehabilitation, carer education and training, home modifications, and provision of aids and equipment including transfer aids.

Kevin and his wife Maureen are thankful for the support of the occupational therapy team in returning home.

“All of the OTs are very knowledgeable and great problem solvers,” Kevin said.

The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to engage in meaningful and purposeful activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists assess a person’s environmental, occupational and personal factors to design targeted interventions to improve performance.

In celebration of OT Week 26 October to 1 November 2020, this year’s theme is resilience and supporting our communities to rebuild, recover, and reengage.

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