Geelong SCI Regional Network - November 2017
The Geelong Regional SCI Network met on November 29 at the Grovedale Community Hub. The group was fortunate to have Curtis Palmer as the guest speaker who presented on sport, leisure, fitness, recreation, mindfulness, and strategies around these. Curtis is quadriplegic who has competed in wheelchair rugby at the Paralympics, is a qualified personal trainer, coach, motivational speaker and father. He has also been a journalist, TV presenter and authored a book about his life's journey.
Curtis spoke to the group about sustaining his spinal cord injury at age 16 while playing rugby, and how a very sporty background helped him complete his rehab successfully. He was open-minded; from trying table tennis by strapping the paddle to his hand, swimming and also took a shot at track and field. After rehab, Curtis entered the Junior Wheelchair National Championship and came back with a number of medals which motivated him to pursue sports further.
That is when he got involved in wheelchair rugby, which took him to four Paralympic Games - the highlight of which was winning a gold medal in Athens in 2004! He spoke to the group of the many benefits of playing disability sports; learning from others (for example getting better at self-catheterising), learning to drive, independence, transferring and getting his wheelchair into the car.
Curtis’s attitude has always been to take on challenges as they come and having a spinal cord injury hasn’t gotten in his way; using goal setting to always improve himself and his outlook. Along this journey, Curtis made full use of his peers and the professionals around him; paramount to successfully navigating life with a disability. In addition to working as a personal trainer, Curtis works part-time at Disability Sport & Recreation; spreading the message of how important it is to keep fit and healthy, in body and mind.
The group’s discussion then turned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the importance of including fitness, leisure, health, and mental wellbeing part of your plan. The NDIS gives you the opportunity to join a gym, see a personal trainer, and look after your mental health.
One of the network participants, Brad, mentioned that depending on your level of function, joining a gym may not be an option. He talked about other options you could take. For example, he uses an FES bike and gets on a tilt table on a regular basis.
Before his injury, Brad was heavily into surfing and sailing and because of the level of his injury, sports and physical activity was not an option. To replace this, his goals and activity concentrated on his family and trying to keep fit and healthy; also incorporating lots of meditation and stretching.
The conclusion and final message of the day was the importance of having something to replace what you have lost, be it sport, work, study, relationships etc. Find a passion no matter what it is and don’t fall into that downward spiral. The group was grateful to have Curtis come and speak about such an important aspect of life, with a down to earth and motivating message.
"The conclusion and final message of the day was the importance of having something to replace what you have lost... Find a passion no matter what it is and don’t fall into that downward spiral."
Details of our next event
Wednesday, 20 Dec 2017