HabITec Ambassador Lindsay Nott talks about his journey so far, and how his life has been enhanced through the use of innovative assistive and rehabilitation technologies.

Authors: Lindsay Nott and Joe-Anne Kek-Pamenter

“I sustained a spinal cord injury a number of years ago which sees me get around on four wheels instead of two legs! My injury hasn’t stopped me from making the most out of this beautiful life. I’d call myself an explorer, because I love travelling and new adventures!”

My name is Lindsay Nott, I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, which is still home today. I sustained a spinal cord injury a number of years ago which sees me get around on four wheels instead of two legs! My injury hasn’t stopped me from making the most out of this beautiful life. I’d call myself an explorer, because I love travelling and new adventures!

My journey began on the last day of grade 12, at the age of 17 when I went for a celebratory swim at Southbank, Brisbane and broke my neck at level C5. Since my accident I have learnt so much, mostly through experience, trying new things and keeping an open mind. I see my journey as being an adventure, and a lot of this has come about due to my positive mindset and willingness to explore the many opportunities available – to make my life easier and more enjoyable – given the circumstances.

The rapid progression of technology has seen my life enhanced significantly. An event that had a profound impact on me, was a few years ago now, during an amazing holiday to New York. At this time, it was suggested by family and peers that I use my adventures and explorations as a way to support others on a similar journey – through the creation of a blog-based platform… and so my website http://myc5life.com was launched.

I had many blog ideas in mind – based on my lived-experiences and was soon introduced to a professional who helped me establish and realise my website goals. After just one year, the site became increasingly popular, with many subscribers and followers, and this led to being approached for more speaking engagements and other opportunities for collaboration. I have participated in public speaking at universities, conferences, fundraisers and within health care settings for over 25 years, however since the launch of the website, I have had more opportunities in this area – including becoming an ambassador for HabITec and participating in the recent Citizen Challenge.

Enhancing my life through technology

Independence is happiness! I love technology and am open to hearing about ways different advancements can be used, modified or co-designed to my benefit. Technology is moving at a fast pace, and there are technologies available now, that were not around when I sustained my injury, which have helped me to become increasingly independent.

Whilst I do not like a lot of tech and prefer to keep things simple, my favourite platform by far is Apple. Apple is an all-in-one system with state-of-the-art accessibility features that reduce the need for add-ons such as third-party devices or applications. Apple devices have many disability features that can be used for those with reduced capacity/mobility. The ways these tools are used is extensive and depends on the user and their individual needs. Personally, I use an Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and iMac desktop computer. These connect to each other seamlessly and act as my ‘mission control’ – allowing me independent access to my devices, with a typing splint and hands-free to communicate, conduct my work, manage my day, and enhance my safety, health, fitness and entertainment.

I make use of basic commands such as the Voice Control, Dictation and Siri – a combination which enables me to navigate my devices using my voice to interact with various apps. I pair my devices with a GoPro, and combined with the accessibility features (i.e.: voice commands), I can control my devices, as well as write and edit messages, use social media, make business, social and emergency calls, or video calls using FaceTime. Depending on physical limitations of the user, there are an array of accessibility options that are unmatched by PC devices at this point. There is also the new eye tracking feature called Skyle, which I have not yet tried, but hear it is a game changer for those who have limited or no use of their hands, and this is available for both Apple and PC based platforms.

Find out more about eye tracking software and hardware on the Knowledge Exchange – Eyegaze Technology: An Overview.

 

Habitec Citizen Challenge
The HabITec Citizen Challenge is a program developed in collaboration with The Hopkins Centre, Metro South Health and Adjunct Fellow, Dr Kara Burns. It involves users of technology, researchers, developers and other interested people, who want to improve access to technologies that meet individual needs. Challenges focus on pivoting existing technology, developing bespoke solutions or sharing first-hand information about what is needed and what works.

As a HabITec Ambassador, the team approached me to be involved with their first Citizen Challenge at the end of 2020, whereby I worked with a team of technology specialists, clinicians and those with lived experience to co-design solutions that would improve online telehealth and rehabilitation services.

For this project, MyC5Life partnered with HabITec to drive forward solutions to the everyday challenges faced when living with a high-level spinal cord injury. In this instance, I worked together with Compago, a leading digital communication, client management and engagement platform, to put forward my experiences in accessing digital health services (particularly during COVID), with the aim to increase my access to a full range of rehabilitation support and my General Practitioner in a more seamless digital environment.

Watch the final pitch video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpaUFwENsFQ&t=273s

Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies (ADaPT)
Through my ongoing collaboration with HabITec, I have been working with the industrial designers and engineers at the Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies (ADaPT) at Griffith University, for a better way of emptying the drainage bag on my wheelchair. This collaboration is still in its infancy, and at present the team are looking to match a suitable engineering student to the project so we can move forward.

Employment
I have been gainfully employed most of my life. Presently, I work in an administration role for LifeTec in Brisbane, which is a role I enjoy. My employer has been very supportive, and I work in an environment which is inclusive and accessible. I had the assistance from an Occupational Therapist (OT) and Job Access upon commencement of the role, and was provided with suitable accessible and adaptive technologies that would aid my work processes. I have also been supported by the NDIS, and together, these two Government organisations have supported me in ways which have made a huge difference to my work experience.

Technology and Dignity

Dignity to me, is simply being included! Whether this is employment, travel or leisure – dignity to me is not being excluded or separated from my family, friends or peers. Dignity is being able to function as independently as possible – and the ability to go about living, and doing what I want to do, without being hindered or having obstacles block my path. It is advancements in technology that have made this possible.

I am very interested in technology and how it can be used to enhance and improve my life. The HabITec team are on the cusp of technology – which they use to empower persons with disabilities in amazing ways. Consumer tech including engineering, prostheses, exoskeletons, robotics, rehabilitation therapies, virtual and augmented reality just to name a few, are especially empowering for people living with disability, increasing accessibility and resolving frustrations of everyday activities. To find out more about bespoke solutions the team are working on, contact the HabITec team.

 

Image credit (Banner):
Antoine Ermessent Malo Photography Queensland

“I am very interested in technology and how it can be used to enhance and improve my life. The HabITec team are on the cusp of technology – which they use to empower persons with disabilities in amazing ways.”

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Menzies Health Institute QLD

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Mt Gravatt QLD

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