Three years ago on her birthday, Robyn Higgins was given a diagnosis that she wasn’t quite prepared for.  Living in Perth then, Robyn, a former school teacher, started seeing changes to the way in which her arms and legs were tensing and making movement very difficult. Her right lower arm had turned into a claw-like posture, which made writing very difficult and as a  school teacher, she noticed that her handwriting had also deteriorated. But Robyn did not think that it was anything too serious, nothing that she couldn’t get fixed with surgery.

Then Robyn also noticed that she had rigidity down the right side of her body. Her entire right leg was stiff and she found that she couldn’t relax it. To add to that, she had toe curling and neuropathy in her toes which made both feet look different from each other.  It turned out that Robyn had Parkinson’s Disease

“The neurologist at the time said, ‘this is not a very good birthday present for you’ but basically right from the start I was surprised because I thought…I had a claw like posture, it was something I thought I’d go in for day surgery, get a nerve nicked and be OK,” she recalls.

She discussed the rather stunning news with her husband Noel and they decided that they would fight it.

“Right from the start we got information but not too much because you don’t want too much. And we looked at every avenue to try and stave off further onset. The symptoms that I went into were a tremor, which I no longer have due to medication and exercise, mainly medication,” Robyn says of her progress since.

Robyn is determined and pragmatic when it comes to doing what she needs to keep the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson at bay. In addition to her medication, she exercises twice at week at Enhanced Living using a MOllii Suit.

MOllii is an assistive therapeutic device that can be worn at home or in the gym, while the wearer goes about their day-to-day activities. The suit is fitted with electrodes that can be set to target key areas of the body for stimulation of the muscles and nerve endings as part of the therapy.

“I have my left hand which can splay and my right hand doesn’t so I have to do exercises to maintain mobility there which the MOllii Suit has helped with,” Robyn said.

A year after her diagnosis, Robin and Noel decided they would relocate from Perth to Queensland settling on the Sunshine Coast where she started attending a support group.

“I was introduced to the MOllii suit by going to a library information centre discussion group and a lady from 121 Care was there and she was talking about NDIS. I was advised that I was eligible for NDIS through another avenue and I followed this up through Suncoast (Integrated) Therapies and I tried the MOllii Suit,” Robyn said of her introduction to MOllii.

Once Robyn’s NDIS funding and plans came through, she pursued MOllii suit therapy with Suncoast Integrated Therapies and through them, Enhanced Living.

“The therapy that I’m doing whilst I’m doing it is very valuable. I use the MOllii suit whilst I’m exercising and my exercise physiologist has created a programme for me based on the neurological condition that I have and its targeting the areas that I need,” Robyn said.

“I have dystonia in my right arm which is very painful and contractions. I find that the MOllii suit…I can feel when its working…when I can’t feel it (pain in her arm), I know that its working but if I do a lot of intensive exercise with amplitude I can really feel it sort of working on the nerves and muscles to stimulate them.

“Afterwards, when I have used the MOllii suit, I go back into my day-to-day activity and I can feel the release. At the moment my arm does not hurt, I can forget that I have a sore arm.”

Robyn notes that her symptoms change and she has a number of symptoms that are non-motor related and therefore not visible.

“A lot of people think Parkinson’s is a tremor and a stoop posture – they are the visible ones. But there’s insomnia, constipation and a whole range of other internal symptoms but no body is the same. I have yet to meet another person with Parkinson’s the same as me,” she said.

 

“The benefit for the MOllii suit for me really is being able to help me move. My long term goal is to reduce, stop, even reverse my symptoms and minimise further onset and I think its been successful so far and I know that it’s degenerative, I know that its never gonna go away but I’m managing it.”

The NDIS recently approved the purchase and long term (12 month) rental for the MOllii suit, which is great news for NDIS participants like Robyn who are able to live their best life through a combination of medication and therapies to stave of the onset of debilitating symptoms of their diagnosis.

 

MOllii helps alleviate muscle spasticity, motor impairment, increased or decreased muscular tension, mobility issues and mascular pain. The suit assists people with cerebral palsy, stroke, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis and other neurological injuries including mental health conditions.

Suncoast Integrated Therapies, owned and operated by 121 Care is the MOllii certified agent on the Sunshine Coast. For enquiries, please call occupational therapist, Jenny Watts on 0427 127 435 or E: contact@suncoastintegratedtherapies.com.au

 

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121 Care’s approach gives people real choice of how much responsibility and control they want to take for their own care plan. I first became involved with 121 Care as a Committee member, but soon was so impressed with the model of listening and insistence on client input that I changed from my previous service provider to 121 Care.

Robert, a client since 2014

121 Care
2019-10-25T16:34:32+10:00

Robert, a client since 2014

121 Care’s approach gives people real choice of how much responsibility and control they want to take for their own care plan. I first became involved with 121 Care as a Committee member, but soon was so impressed with the model of listening and insistence on client input that I changed from my previous service provider to 121 Care.
The biggest benefits with 121 Care are choosing my own carers (I have a fantastic team); the flexibility to run my own roster and organise my shifts with my carers has been awesome. The office staff are very respectful and helpful when I need something. I never feel like I’m a number, but a person which matters to me a lot.

Casey, a client since 2013

121 Care
2019-10-25T16:40:12+10:00

Casey, a client since 2013

The biggest benefits with 121 Care are choosing my own carers (I have a fantastic team); the flexibility to run my own roster and organise my shifts with my carers has been awesome. The office staff are very respectful and helpful when I need something. I never feel like I’m a number, but a person which matters to me a lot.
What I’m grateful for most about getting my support through 121 Care is that I can stay in my own home. The staff members also help me to achieve my goals and offer paid training to our carers to become better workers.

Anne, a client since 1997

121 Care
2019-10-25T16:42:14+10:00

Anne, a client since 1997

What I’m grateful for most about getting my support through 121 Care is that I can stay in my own home. The staff members also help me to achieve my goals and offer paid training to our carers to become better workers.
I appreciated that 121 Care gave me control, rather than telling me what to do. The freedom to interview and choose my own workers is what I like most about my care, rather than being allocated workers without any consultation. It was made clear to me from the start that I would run my own care with my own workers.

David, a client since 1999

121 Care
2019-10-25T16:43:06+10:00

David, a client since 1999

I appreciated that 121 Care gave me control, rather than telling me what to do. The freedom to interview and choose my own workers is what I like most about my care, rather than being allocated workers without any consultation. It was made clear to me from the start that I would run my own care with my own workers.
Just to let you know that Fran, Jenny and myself are extremely happy with the support being given to Jenny at this time. Both workers are excellent!!!

David, parent of a client

121 Care
2020-02-28T10:37:45+10:00

David, parent of a client

Just to let you know that Fran, Jenny and myself are extremely happy with the support being given to Jenny at this time. Both workers are excellent!!!

Sarah (Skelton, Liaison Officer), you have gone about making a difference in a person's life.


Sarah assisted a client with obtaining a volunteer dog groomer role which the client is enjoying tremendously.

Jo Priestly, Client Services Manager (retired 2019)

121 Care
2020-02-28T10:44:02+10:00

Jo Priestly, Client Services Manager (retired 2019)

Sarah (Skelton, Liaison Officer), you have gone about making a difference in a person's life. Sarah assisted a client with obtaining a volunteer dog groomer role which the client is enjoying tremendously.

Thanks for the hard work Jeanie (McDonnell, Client Service Manager). I'm sure it will improve service delivery.

SA, Senior Reportable Incidents Office, NDIS Commission

121 Care
2020-02-28T10:47:43+10:00

SA, Senior Reportable Incidents Office, NDIS Commission

Thanks for the hard work Jeanie (McDonnell, Client Service Manager). I'm sure it will improve service delivery.
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121 Care