We recently caught up with one of our clients Kieron D’Netto from Brisbane. We have had the privilege of knowing Kieron since 2019 and we were so grateful that he was willing to share his inspirational story with us.
Life changing moment
Back in 2004, Kieron had just graduated high school and was enjoying a day at the beach with his mates. Often, they would jump off the bridge there. Unfortunately, on this particular day Kieron dived off headfirst holding a boogie board and the impact against the water caused severe spinal injury, paralysing him from the neck down. He was meant to be joining the air force three days later, but at that moment his world took a different turn.
Kieron woke up in hospital unable to move anything and he spent the next 11 months in the spinal unit doing intensive rehab to get back as much movement as possible. Remarkably Kieron didn’t let this set back define him and was determined to move forward with his life.
Courage and positivity
Only 6 months after the accident the TV station, Channel 9 in Australia, who were reporting on the dangers of bridge diving, asked Kieron if he would be willing to go back to the bridge. It was obviously extremely confronting, but he thought he would help spread a positive message and hopefully stop others from making similar mistakes. He went to the spot where he jumped off looked at it and thought you didn’t beat me, I’m still going to live life.
Since that moment Kieron has found a passion to be a positive influence within the community. Following the accident, Kieron went back to his high school to deliver a motivational talk to his fellow students, which ignited a passion and drive to do more.
Gaming & setbacks
Kieron has always been a keen gamer so now he had to find a way to game without the use of his hands or fingers. Back when he had the accident in 2004, there was a lack of assistive technological devices, but as technology developed, Kieron has since been able to combine a head tracker with a sip and puff headset, which contours his mouth and provides left and right button clicks. This gave Kieron the precision and dexterity while playing games and even gave him an advantage.
“When I was playing Battlefield or Call of Duty, I actually had an advantage over able bodied people as they had to rely on their hand eye coordination to react, but wherever I’m looking I’m already looking on target. They used to get frustrated and think I was cheating so when the support worker would type in the chat that I was paralysed, they would think I was making it up!”
In 2012 following several public sector cuts, much of Kieron’s funding was taken away forcing him to sell his customised computer equipment to pay for his medical bills. Kieron was without his computer for 10 months, until one day his mum lined an interview up with Intel Australia. Unbeknown to Kieron, the interview was part of a surprise reveal giveaway and during the interview, representatives from several companies delivered a new system to get Kieron back doing what he loved!
He was getting his life back on track when a near fatal hospitalization in 2018 set him back in a big way. Kieron was rushed to hospital with serious bowel disfunction. During this hospitalisation Kieron lost most of the arm and hand movement he had worked so hard to gain.
The road ahead
Kieron has shown great resilience and bounced back from adversity, and he is keen to use this positivity to help others. He is involved in voluntary work for Spinal Life Australia, going out to schools to deliver motivational and awareness talks for kids to understand they are not invincible and to think about potential risks.
“The kids seem to be receptive to me being a bit younger, they don’t take it as a lecture. Instead I talk to them on their level about how one second of stupidity can land you up in a position like mine or worse. I’ve found great purpose and self-fulfillment out of doing these talks.”
Kieron has also given hospital talks to student nurses, delivered a motivational speech at a dental convention and even helped occupational therapist students from the University of the Sunshine Coast, on their honours project.
Kieron has shared his journey through interviews with the BBC, Channel 9, multiple newspapers and been a voice and advocate for people with disabilities. He just says he wants to help in any way to make a difference and use his situation to get a message out.
We were honoured to be able to assist Kieron following his hospitalization by providing him with our dynamic hand and upper limb splints.
We are just glad we can help such an inspirational and positive young man and help him on his incredible journey and we look forward to seeing what he achieves in the future.
Fantastic to speak with you Kieron, keep up the awesome work!