Ready, set, DRIVE asisstive technology is taken to the next level

Back to blogOne year ago by Renee
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Dr Jordan Ngyen with 13 year old Riley who has level 5 cerebral palsy in a buggy being driven with asisstive technology by Riley
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Biomedical engineer Dr Jordan Ngyen takes on a new challenge in the second of ABC TV’s Catalyst two part series Becoming Superhuman, to help Riley Saban achieve his dream to drive a car. In the first of the series we met the two friends, Riley and Dr Jordan. Riley lives with cerebral palsy. In the first of the series Dr Jordan invented a prototype technology to enable his friend to control basic functions such as turning on the TV, lights and fans using his eye movements. And together they took technology to uncharted places.

What was interesting and heartening about episode two was the passionate determination demonstrated by Dr Jordan and his engineering interns. They were unrelenting in their determination to find a way to help Riley achieve his goal of wanting to drive. The problem solving approach they undertook to develop the car was reassuring to see. Dr Jordan and his interns had a strongly proactive approach which was the key to the successful outcome of the project.

So often living with a disability is seen as a negative. Challenges like driving a car are often seen as far too hard. To see people who believed in solutions actively doing so was extremely refreshing and exciting. The Catalyst program demonstrated the possibilities and the types of equipment that can be used to support someone with a disability to drive successfully.

Both episodes highlight the wonderful sense of achievement gained by being independent. Riley strongly articulated this at the conclusion of the second episode, when he said, “I think mind control could change the world and allow physically disabled people just like myself to be more independent. We will have more input into society. I want to change the … world.” This reminded me of my own personal mantra which is: if you want to do something badly enough you can find a way to do it.

This second episode left me with a great feeling of hope. It showed how when a group of people get together with a shared and positive purpose anything is possible. What resonated most was the determination of the engineers to help their friend.

Written by guest blogger Johanna Garvin. Photo courtesy of

Johanna is a writer, film maker and this year climbed Mt Kosciusko with her support team at Krazy Kosci Klimb.