New mobile hoist provides freedom of movement for Lee

4 minute(s) to read

Tertiary study, international travel and launching his own business are among the many milestones quadriplegic Lee Taniwha has achieved in spite of a diving accident which initially left him unable to scratch his own face.

The Auckland man, now aged 30, has had to adapt his entire lifestyle around his C4/C5 spinal injury which occurred when he dived headfirst into his aunt’s swimming pool as a 13 year-old.

“It was the last weekend before the summer holidays. I hadn’t swum there before so I didn't know how to judge the depth. For some reason instead of diving across, I dived down. I immediately hit the bottom and I couldn’t move anything. I couldn’t resurface because my hands and legs wouldn’t work.”

While his cousins were nearby, they thought Lee was playing around. Until the air bubbles stopped surfacing. “I was hoping they wouldn’t have to witness me drowning because it would stick with them forever. I was at the bottom and I was literally just counting… I thought I had about five seconds left.”

Lee’s narrow escape was followed by five months in Auckland’s Spinal Rehabilitation Unit. While he didn’t have any movement to begin with, by the time he returned home he could feed himself. Since then, sheer strength, determination and the right support has enabled him to live a busy and fulfilling life. He returned to school fulltime and eventually became a prefect. He then went on to achieve a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in graphic design.

“I’ve done a lot of work with NGOs,” Lee says. “I did some work for a subset of KidsCan called Discovery. They help kids who have been through real hardcore trauma. I used to design a lot of their stuff for them. I also helped launch a project called the Humans of South Auckland which was similar to the Humans of New York project. We featured in the Auckland Art Festival and other gallery exhibitions. I did all the design work for that too. I really enjoyed being involved in something bigger, and doing stuff for the community and feeling useful.”

Lee has recently launched his own caregiving agency and has done a lot of national and international travel. He says having a lightweight Etac Molift Smart 150 mobile hoist has been a godsend.

“I couldn’t fly anywhere with my old one as it was too big and heavy which made travel a lot more complicated. So Cubro set me up with the mobile smart 150. It packs down very small into its own carry bag which I clip onto the back of my powered wheelchair when I’m moving through airports. It’s simple and easy.”

Lee also uses the hoist to get himself out of his wheelchair and into the front seat of his van. “The hoist just stows away down the side of the van. I’ve even used it to get into a kayak a few times. It’s really easy.”

The Molift Smart full body hoist weighs just over 25kg and can fold down in one piece without requiring any tools for compact storage. It has a safe working load of 150kg, and the four-point suspension keeps the sling open to reduce pressure on the body and ensure there’s no visual communication barrier with carers.

Lee says people often think hoists can only be used in a hospital or bedroom setting. But this mobile unit allows greater freedom of movement as you can perform transfers while out and about in the community.

“I always recommend it to people who are going away a lot or plan to go on holiday because it’s so small and compact. I’ve used it heaps and it’s been really helpful.”

Cubro case studies are based on actual testimonials provided by real customers and users of our solutions.  In some testimonials to protect the identity of the users, we have changed a name and used a stock photo. Our case studies describe our past work with customers and users, and detail solutions that have improved their quality of life. As each individual user has a unique set of needs and requirements, the content in these case studies should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from a registered clinician.