Many people we treat were young and active before their accident, so it’s hard for them to adjust to life-changing injuries.
A motorcyclist who is undergoing rehabilitation at Epworth Hawthorn after a serious collision, is urging everyone on the roads to take care.
In October, 54 year-old Andrew Eklin left his Somervile home to ride to Eden in New South Wales, to meet up with two friends from Sydney.
All three planned to ride their motorbikes back to Phillip Island the next day, to attend the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Mr Elkin didn’t make it. An hour after leaving home, he was seriously injured on the South Gippsland Highway near Tooradin, when a truck pulled out from a side street.
Mr Elkin hit the side of the truck at high speed, causing serious injuries to his right leg and arm.
“I saw the truck pull out and started processing my options, but before I had a chance to react, I hit the truck,” Mr Elkin said.
“I rolled a few times and lost consciousness and woke to see five or six people standing over me.”
One of the people who stopped to help put a torniquet on Mr Elkin’s severely injured and bleeding leg, which may have saved his life.
“Whoever that person was, I would like to get in touch with them because if they hadn’t done that, I may not have made it to hospital.”
Mr Elkin spent several weeks in The Alfred hospital before being transferred to Epworth Rehabilitation.
Last week, he was fitted with a prosthetic leg and he took his first steps under the watchful eye of Epworth Hawthorn physiotherapist, Jacob Waller.
Mr Waller said road trauma can change lives in seconds.
“Many people we treat were young and active before their accident, so it’s hard for them to adjust to life-changing injuries,” Mr Waller said.
“Seeing Andrew take his first steps on his prosthetic leg was fantastic. It was such a special moment and so positive. Andrew has worked incredibly hard to get to this point and it’s humbling to see the results of a team effort at Epworth Rehabilitation.“
Rennie Fotopoulos, Executive General Manager, Epworth Rehabilitation and Mental Health, said a team of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals treats hundreds of road trauma patients at Epworth every year.
“It is a big team that includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists exercise physiologists, social workers, prosthetists and dieticians. They all help get people back into the community to their loved ones,” Ms Fotopoulos said.
“Most multi-trauma orthopaedic patients will begin their journey as an inpatient and transition to outpatient, or home-based, care when they are ready. People can remain in our care for a few months to a few years, depending on the extent of their injury and individual needs.”
Mr Elkin wants people to pay attention on the roads over Christmas, as lifechanging collisions can happen in a split second.
“Look out for people on motorbikes,” Mr Elkin said.
“I rode with my bike’s headlight on and the driver didn’t see me. One minute I was enjoying myself, settling in for a nice ride and just like that, the truck pulled out and there was no time to stop. I am fortunate that I don’t have permanent brain or spinal injuries.”
Mr Elkin is expected to briefly return home to be with his family on Christmas Day, before returning to Epworth Hawthorn as an inpatient to continue his rehabilitation.