We’ve all felt that desire to get out of the house and go and have adventures, to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get into nature by fishing on the beach or camping in the forest.
For Tyson Jansen that pull is even stronger, but always out of reach since the 32-year-old has been in a wheelchair since the age of five.
“I’ve never been on the beach except for when I was small and my mum carried me on her back,” Tyson said.
“I would definitely describe myself as an outdoors person and it’s been frustrating not being able to join my friends and family when they go camping or fishing.
“We have tried it a number of times but my power chair gets stuck or wedged on sticks when I try to drive it on outdoor areas.
“I’m also housebound when the weather is wet because my current power chair can’t tolerate even a light shower of rain and if I get stuck out in rain my warranty is voided. Given we live in a cyclone area I’m often stuck at home waiting for the rain to stop.”
Enter Amanda Brown, known to her clients as Mandy, an occupational therapist with Ozcare Mackay.
“When Tyson came to me with his issues I thought there was an opportunity there to use his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding to help him achieve his goal of having a wheelchair that could handle all terrain,” Mandy said.
“Tyson had found the Action Trackchair on Facebook when looking at disability equipment so I contacted the supplier and visited his stall at an equipment expo in Brisbane. I convinced the supplier to let us trial it on a purpose-built obstacle course made up of long grass, freshly mown grass, loose gravel, hills, wet and dry sand, kerbs and undulating ground.”
Tyson was found to be safe in operating the chair and picked up immediately how to tilt his chair for safety when going up and down hills. The chair suited his function and appeared to meet his goals of increasing his community, social, and leisure opportunities.
“I completed an NDIS application requesting funds from his plan to be used to purchase the chair. It was a very involved process, working closely with the Australian supplier and American manufacturer to meet Tyson’s unique needs, which required modifications to the seat base, armrests, head rest, and foot plate,” Mandy said.
“Tyson also needed some other accessories to make his chair go even further including a generator rack, fishing rod holder and a gun mount.
“I also had to trial competitors’ all terrain chairs which failed to safely traverse our obstacle course. The other chairs certainly had their uses, but not for Tyson in these scenarios.” Having received his new bespoke wheelchair, Tyson says the chair has indeed been life-changing.
“It gives me more freedom – I can go fishing, shooting, or even just down to the beach. I’ve been able to join in with my family more which has really meant so much to all of us,” Tyson said.
Mandy says that without the NDIS the chair would not have been a possibility for Tyson.
“This is really what the NDIS is all about – helping people achieve their goals and live an ordinary life. Although, Tyson now gets pulled up every day by the general public asking to take photos of his chair and asking questions about it. Obviously it doesn’t look like a power chair which is great for breaking the stigma of disability equipment. I’ve encouraged Tyson to start charging for media appearances!”
Now adjusting to his new adventurous life, Tyson and his mum are looking to purchase a portable hoist system that can be used when camping, and plan to spend most of 2018 outdoors.