Young man with firm
faith in the future
FOR Kevan Boyle, his wife, Sylvia, and their daughter. Lisa, aged 18 months, a new home at Coleambally. N.S.W.
-At 22, a crane
accident turned Kevan Boyle into a paraplegic, but he has won through
to a useful life
-By CHRIS FALVEY
THEY couldn't find
Kevan Boyle at the Spinal Injuries Unit of Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital.
"He's very elusive," said
one of the nurses as some- one else called out, "He's gone to the bank. Can you wak? He'll be back soon."
A few minutes later, Kevan Boyle quietly wheeled himself into the busy, yet relaxed, atmosphere of the sunny courtyard in front of the old weatherboard build-
ing in which the Spinal Injuries Unit is housed.
Kevan is 22, with thick, wavy fair hair, blue eyes, and a warm, shy smile. He is also a paraplegic.
"I'm classed as a T8 Para-
plegic," said Kevan. "I can just feel my last rib."
Was pinned to the seat
Last September, Kevan was driving a crane as he helped his father, a builder, to clear land on which they were preparing to build
themselves a hardware store at Coleambally, in the N.S.W. Murrumbidgee Irri- gation Area.
Kevan intended to go to his own block of land in Kingfisher Avenue later in the day to start clearing it
for the house he and his wife, Sylvia, aged 20, were planning to build and move into with their daughter, Lisa, now 18 months.
One of the crane's cables slipped and the jib came down on Kevan, pinning him to the seat "My back was hurting badly and my legs were numb - like pins
and needles - but I could still feel them," said Kevan.
Kevan didn't know then,
but he would soon be faced with laying completely new
foundations for his whole
future: life as a paraplegic.
Kevan waited for the bush nurse, Sister Pugh, to come from Darlington Point
and then for the ambulance
from Griffith (40 miles away) which took him to hospital. X-rays were taken. The Flying Doctor brought Kevan to Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital.
"I had a pretty good idea at the time of the accident that it was bad because my back was bent over the seat and I couldn't move. But it didn't cross my mind that the damage would be per-
"The night I came here, after they had seen the X rays, the doctor told me that as far as he knew I'd never walk again.
"I was so sick I didn't really take much notice at
"They bad to wait a fort- night to operate. They straightened the backbone as best they could and put a plate in to hold it. This is all they can ever do."
Kevan spoke quietly and seriously, remembering the first few weeks of slowly dawning realisation. He appeared to be trying to overcome a natural shyness
and reluctance to talk about
himself to explain the plight of all paraplegics.
"I suppose it really hits you when you start to re- cover and realise that you're only going to partially re-
cover. You'll never be the way you were.
"Although Id had time
to get used to the idea, it was still a shock when I finally completely realised and accepted what para- plegia meant."
Kevan has adjusted to
this new fact of his life.
I spoke with him on the day he was leaving hospital.
Treatment consists mainly of physiotherapy, but also of occupational therapy. Kevan spent the first three months in bed, when occupational therapy, such as leather and basket-work, was his mainstay in helping him to
feel useful once more and
to regain the initial confi- dence and courage for the struggle ahead.
There is constant physio- therapy. One of the most popular ways to achieve and maintain physical rehabili- tation for paraplegics is through sport.
This year Kevin competed in the archery, table tennis, and javelin events in the paraplegic and quadriplegic
Change his occupation
He did well, but wasn't chosen for the New South Wales team which went to Melbourne this month for the national games. A team has now been picked for the Paralympics to be held in Scotland in July, if funds can
be raised to send them.
He is proud of his fel- low paraplegics' accomplish- ments. "If a paraplegic wants to do something badly enough, there is really no- thing he cannot do. For ex- ample, many do the main- tenance on their specially
Like many paraplegics,
Kevan had to change his occupation - he was a plumber's apprentice.
He has completed a corres- pondence course in builders' costing and planned to work as a costing clerk for his
"I did the course because I wanted to do it, I like it," said Kevan, optimistic about
Sylvia and Lisa came to Sydney to be with Kevan, staying at Manly.
The Boyles were thrilled at going home - Kevan's
father has built their house.
Kevan has nothing but praise for the staff and patients of the Spinal Injuries Unit.
"The attitude of everyone
here is wonderful. There is
always someone to cheer you up if you get a bit low."
Yet Kevan doesn't want to
cling to the protection of the
"I want to get out, go home," he said, "although they do understand you better than people outside.
"Some patients and physios think this is the hardest part - being out-
side for the first few months.
But I don't think people will act very differently. Perhaps for the first few times they see me, but then I hope they will accept me."
Kevan and Sylvia have accepted the fact that there will be no more children for
them. They arc simply glad they have Lisa.
"I had thought about not being able to get down and play with Lisa, but it hasn't mattered as much as I
thought it might," said Kevan. "She enjoys playing with me and loves to push my chair around. The good thing is that she's so young. She will grow up knowing
me as I am."