I’ve always loved animals. Back home in Lithuania, my house was filled with cats, dogs, rabbits, spiders and snakes! I’ve always wanted to be a veterinary surgeon even from a small child; my first job was working with horses.

At the time of my accident, I was on my way to meet my boyfriend when I was hit by a car. It left me with no use of my legs and small movement in my hands and neck. Due to my experience working with animals, I understood what it was to have a spinal cord injury. I was familiar with what it looked like to have this type of injury. Most of the time, we would put the animal to sleep if this happened. My first reaction when I found out that I was now paralysed was to get on with it. I needed to deal with this new situation and face it. 

Dorota using her computer

I was in hospital for about six months and transferred to Stanmore as soon as I was stabilised. Whilst I was in Stanmore, my Occupational Therapy team introduced me to the Aspire’s Assistive Technology Programme.  I wanted to be able to use a computer; I wanted to be able to do something by myself.

Andrew, Aspire’s Assistive Technology Manager, showed me how to use a SmartNav and Dragon. I found SmartNav quite interesting. I was able to control a mouse using my head. When I first tried it felt like something out of a science fiction movie. After a couple of sessions, I was able get to grips with it pretty quickly. The equipment plus a laptop was left with me inbetween sessions so I was able to do lots of practice on my own. I was quickly using it to communicate with my friends, read and send emails. Andrew also showed me a program where I was also able to try drawing using the computer. It made me realise how many tools were actually out there.

Dorota using her computer

I knew that when I finally got out of hospital and home, I would want the same set up. Whilst I waited for it to arrive, I used the EVA Facial mouse which I also tried with Andrew whilst I was in hospital. This uses my facial expressions to operate my computer. I’ve now got a SmartNav at home and with it I’m able to communicate with friends and family, use Facebook, email.

I can communicate with the outside world

I’ve also been able to do some online training as well. I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to being a veterinarian surgeon but it will always be an interest of mine.

Being able to access a computer has opened up prospects for me. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to do much but now I know that this is not the case.

- Dorota

Assistive technology

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