Allow us to introduce you to a wonderful member of our Participant Reference Group (PRG): JJ, a 33-year-old country boy at heart, loving husband to the wonderful Jess and father of two energetic boys, aged 8 and 11.

JJ has kindly shared his story and YouTube channel RAD RollinAllDay – YouTube  in honour of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (3-9 September 2023). His creative content aims to share his knowledge and experiences, benefiting both those with spinal cord injuries and those without.

Before his accident, JJ was a plumber and outdoors person with a passion for creativity. Three years ago his life took an unexpected turn during a motorbike adventure in Imbil State Forest. A fall over the handlebars left him with a fractured C4 vertebra, unable to move but fully conscious.

Thankfully, JJ’s friend had an emergency locator device (EPIRB) to call for help. Due to the remote location, paramedics took three hours to arrive, having to use a 4WD vehicle to reach JJ before he could be transferred by helicopter to the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH).

JJ spent eight months in PAH’s Spinal Injuries Unit (SIU), dealing with not only the massive adjustment to his life but the challenges of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. Visitation restrictions during this time meant he had limited contact with others but once restrictions were eased, JJ’s wife, Jess, was able to be by his side every day providing unwavering support and, their energetic boys helped him regain use of his diaphragm and voice.

During his hospital stay, while in search of information to help him regain his independence, JJ discovered YouTube clips created by others with a spinal cord injury. He was linked with Otengi who set him up with a QuadStick and Spinal Life Australia helped set him up with voice-activated Dragon Software to create his own content. After teaching himself how to edit and enhance his videos, he now produces humorous clips, accessible accommodation reviews, and equipment evaluations.

JJ’s dream is to collaborate with equipment rental companies for honest reviews and feedback, and emphasises that part of regaining independence is accepting assistance when needed and finding out what equipment and tools are out there. He encourages others to use the internet, conduct research, and connect with fellow spinal cord injury survivors. He highlights the impact of attitude on recovery and caregiving, urging respect and kindness towards medical professionals and caregivers. JJ’s positivity has led to wonderful interactions with nurses and caregivers, demonstrating that a cheerful disposition can make a difference.

While JJ acknowledges the challenges and moments of despair, he focuses on what he can do rather than what he cannot. We thank JJ for sharing his story and channel with our audience and hope it assists others on their journey of resilience and growth.

Last updated: September 2023