From Strength to Strength

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man on wheelchair 'bike'
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20-year-old Andrew has spastic dystonic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, which affects all of his limbs. Mobility is challenging and he uses a variety of mobility devices. Andrew’s commitment to maintaining and increasing his fitness is enabling him to lead a more independent life.

Andrew first dreamt of being able to go to the gym back in high school. Now, he attends the gym twice a week, each time doing a spin cycle class and gym workout with a personal trainer.

It’s not just about going to the gym – becoming fit and healthy has meant Andrew has been able to get more involved in his local community, use his walking frame more efficiently and have more social interaction.

“I’ve become fitter and stronger which helps me maintain my mobility and a healthy weight. I enjoy the social interaction and the feeling of being one of the regulars in the spin class. It gives me a good feeling just getting out and about locally,” Andrew said.

Andrew has been receiving assistance under Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Individual Funding Program for the last 18 months, and has used it to source staff to assist him with his voluntary work at the local school and to support him in his early days at the gym.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Coordinator Siueti Maile said this program gives adults like Andrew the flexibility to self-manage their funding and implement a support program that suits their needs and interests.

“The program has offered Andrew support with what he would like his day to day activities to look like, particularly around personalised recruitment,” said Siueti.

“We worked with Andrew and his family to write up an advertisement that would capture the kind of skills and personality he was seeking in a support person, and advertise externally to different educational institutions.”

“This has provided Andrew with maximum opportunities to keep him well engaged in his community – going to the gym, gardening volunteer work at the local school, and expanding his networks of friends and colleagues,” she said.

Fitness is crucial for Andrew to continue participating in the activities that he loves.

“A Cerebral Palsy Alliance exercise physiologist made the first approach to my local gym about five years ago and helped devise a workout program for me. She continues to monitor my progress. Also, my Cerebral Palsy Alliance physiotherapist and occupational therapist have always encouraged me to set goals for myself and, in true therapist form, once I have achieved those goals we set the next challenge!” Andrew said.

“I want to maintain a healthy lifestyle so that I can continue to lead an active life and do the things I enjoy. I really enjoy pushing myself to the limit and beating my previous personal bests. My gym and volunteer days provide a good balance to my couple of days doing IT work at a not-for-profit organisation.”

“My family and I know first-hand what it means to have access to services that can help make my life more comfortable and independent. By taking part in Steptember, participants will not only improve their own wellbeing; they’re also enabling Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s therapy teams to continue supporting many individuals and families living with cerebral palsy.”

Children and adults living with cerebral palsy face physical challenges every day, and Andrew is a great example of someone who has embraced a fitness lifestyle and thrived!

Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s exercise physiology services are available at sites in Ryde, Allambie Heights, Prairiewood and the ACT.

To find out how our therapy teams can support you to reach your fitness goals, call 1300 888 378 to make an appointment with one of our exercise physiologists.