ALBURY’S newest clinical physiotherapist has only 5 per cent of his sight but it’s his sense of touch that makes him good at his job.
Daniel Searle lost his sight at the age of 16 from a genetic condition.
He now sees just 5 per cent of the colours and shapes of the world but his disability hasn’t limited his horizons.
Mr Searle graduated from Charles Sturt University’s physiotherapy class of 2014, along with his guide dog Bear. Now he has joined his first clinic and will start seeing patients at Flex Out Physiotherapy on Wednesday.
“It’s been a long journey to get here, so it’s very exciting,” Mr Searle said.
“At the age of 16 I did not know if I would finish year 12 let alone university.”
Bear has been with him since his first year of study in Albury and will continue his journey with Mr Searle at the clinic.
“He’s a good talking point and he’s popular with people, especially children,” he said.
Before losing his sight, Mr Searle was considering physiotherapy as a career or something sports related.
“I got to work with occupational therapists that made a real difference to my life and inspired a passion for physiotherapy,” he said.
“I thought this was a way to give back to the community after all the support I was given.”
The Australian representative in Blind Cricket and paratriathlon explained that his techniques were somewhat different than other physiotherapists.
“It’s a lot more hands on for me,” he said.
“Other physiotherapists might be able to look at people and see where their posture is out, but I have to feel someone’s spine.
“I am relying on tactile feedback from patients because a lot of it happens under the skin.”
But it’s not all touch Mr Searle relies on.
“One of my strong points is that I am a good listener,” Mr Searle said.
“So much of the information comes from listening to a patient, so this is important.”
He may also listen to people to see if their steps sound wrong.
With the help of his guide dog, Mr Searle has already been able to navigate a busy physiotherapy schedule which includes work at the North Albury Football Club and Westmont Aged Care Facility, and the addition of the private practice workload is further proof there is not much he can’t do.
With the assistance of some specialised scripting software and a few procedural changes, Mr Searle will manage a fairly usual caseload — sports injuries, chronic pain, work place injuries and disability.
“The software will allow me to use the computer because everything is read back to me,” he said.