Innovation helped my recovery from surgery

Innovation helped my recovery from surgery

Innovation helped my recovery from surgery ...

Author: Gavin Leung

Hi Colleagues and friends,

I share this story as one day – you could be in a similar situation…

April 2021 was a tough month. A lot of things happened and as they say “healthy mind, healthy body; healthy body, healthy mind”. I won’t go through all the details but I’m sure my mind wasn’t healthy and once the mind isn’t healthy, the body shortly follows. During a game of basketball, I jumped for the ball like I had done thousands of times before. My knee gave way and “pop” – I had ruptured my ACL. I didn’t know it at the time and a couple of months later, I was at the hospital having my knee surgically repaired.

Whilst you hear sports players injure their knees and 12 months later, they’re playing again. What isn’t really covered is the recovery process. My leg was so swollen it was like someone had used a pump to inflate it. It was essentially locked straight and the slightest of touches would cause throbbing pain all the way up to your backside.

You read a lot of posts on LinkedIn on resiliency, but I must say, in this experience my resilience was tested as I tried to navigate the accessibility barriers of my day-to-day life with an injury. During my recovery, I had lost a lot of independence and hardly left home (and this was before the recent lockdown). Something as simple as getting dressed was a challenge, walking a few metres may as well be kilometres away and leaving the house for physiotherapy was practically a big team coordinated event just to do so.

These challenges led me to consider the incredible resilience of people living with disability who are constantly confronted with barriers. My first-hand experience helped me gain a greater understanding for one small part of inaccessibility in the world. What’s amazing is that there are so many people out there looking to make the world more accessible and inclusive.

For 2 years I worked at the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and during my time there, I was introduced to many people driven to make a difference for people living with a disability. This experience motivated me to find a way to further contribute to the disability sector and I came across Remarkable led by Pete Horsley. From their Design-athon and Accelerator programs, I connected with a fantastic group of innovative people focusing on using technology to build a more inclusive world. 

One innovative individual I was buddied with is Penny Weber, founder of Recovawear and Wearable & Co. Recovawear is an adaptive clothing line that helps you regain some independence during your recovery. Now for the folks at home – next time you’re getting dressed, try to put pants on with a straight leg to see what it's like. Penny was kind enough to send me some pants and underwear and these products definitely made it easier and less painful to get changed with a straight leg. Safe to say, I have never been more excited to receive clothes in the mail.

And finally, I’d like to thank my wife, family, work colleagues, friends and medical team who have helped me during my recovery. Resiliency is definitely easier with a strong support network around you (and some comfy adaptive clothing).