Patricia Newton has been undergoing rehabilitation via Skype

A new ride-on has given Patricia a marginal degree of independence in her garden.
A new ride-on has given Patricia a marginal degree of independence in her garden.

Patricia Newton knows only too well it can take just the blink of an eye for your life to change forever.

That life-changing moment occurred more than 12 months ago when Patricia and husband Monte were heading home from a doctor's appointment in Newcastle to Cobark, at the foot of the Barrington Ranges.

The couple was near Stroud when a a driver flew over a small hill on the wrong side of the road and straight into their Toyota Hilux.

Monte was taken by road ambulance to John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle with a cracked sternum and injuries to his left leg, while Patricia was airlifted by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter in a serious condition with multiple, life threatening injuries.

The next 15 days were touch and go for Patricia who lay in intensive care, unaware of what had happened.

"I can't remember a thing; the last thing I do remember was bending down to pick-up something; I think it was my phone."

Patricia had lost part of her stomach, a metre of bowel, had a compound fracture to her left leg, while part of her left heel fell off.

That is now held together with four screws.

The whole team is fantastic; I will be forever grateful to them.

Patricia Newman

A slight improvement, and Patricia was transferred to the wards where she spent the next four months undergoing multiple operations and a slow, painful recovery before relocating to Forster Private Hospital for another two months.

"I knew they had a really good physiotherapy," Patricia said on her decision to transfer to Forster.

Forster was possibly where the real work on Patricia's rehabilitation began.

"The whole team is fantastic; I will be forever grateful to them."

Patricia believed she would be spending the early part of her stay in a wheelchair.

"They got me up to walk on my first day there."

Until being discharged earlier this year Patricia worked with a team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers headed by rehabilitation registrars, Melissa McCarney and Anna Lydtin and visiting associate professor, Steven Faux on-site.

Returning to her home, where Patricia and Monte run Limousin Angus cross beef cattle on their 1200 acre property, her rehabilitation continued making the five hour return trip to Forster twice weekly.

Bethany helps Patricia go through her paces.

Bethany helps Patricia go through her paces.

Patricia and the Forster hospital day rehabilitation unit worked for up to three hours each session until last month when she moved to tele-health therapy via Skype.

Dr Lydton said the service was ideal for those living remotely and by themselves.

This tele-health removed the need to travel to Sydney, Port Macquarie or Newcastle, Dr Lydton said.

"Looking at the goals of every patient we can set up a rehabilitation plan based on what they require to return to an active, independent life."

Using every day items and the available resources, staff can put together an at-home, bespoke rehabilitation program.

Patricia's therapy to assist her recover from this life-changing multi-trauma accident includes cardio, respiratory fitness and endurance strengthening, range of motion exercises, balance and mobility training, all under the supervision of exercise physiologist, Daniel Lawton and physiotherapist, Bethany Cullen, along with the allied health team.

Dr Anna Lydtin and visiting associate professor, Dr Steven Faux have been assisting Patricia in her recovery through Skype.

Dr Anna Lydtin and visiting associate professor, Dr Steven Faux have been assisting Patricia in her recovery through Skype.

"Using tele-health, we can see Pat work in her own environment so she can resume her favourite things like gardening and feeding the animals," Daniel said.

A keen gardener, Patricia has more than 100 camelias, along with a mix of cottage, exotic trees and plants on her quarter acre house-plot.

And, while she continues to use a walker and a stick, a new ride-on has given her a slight degree of independence in her garden.

Interested in learning more about tele-health services at Forster, contact your GP or the hospital directly on 6555 1333.