Mohsen Dashti’s life changed in an instant when the truck he was driving lost its brakes in 2012 and hit a tree. After a series of operations, doctors had to make the difficult decision to amputate Mohsen’s leg. But things started looking up when he commenced his rehabilitation program, and he now has a goal to aim for: the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
The time immediately following the accident involved some 7 or more operations, which Mohsen says were some of the most difficult times of his life.
“Pain management was a big problem, and I was waking up at night with shooting pain running through my leg. I could also only move my leg about 10 degrees, and it was not stable,” Mohsen recalls.
It was also a time when he struggled with depression, as he was very fit before the accident and found the loss of his mobility mentally challenging. Mohsen was a personal trainer back in Iran before he immigrated to Australia in 2009.
Working with exercise physiologist Adrian Sexton and the team at Epworth Hawthorn’s Amputee Program, Mohsen gradually began to gain strength in his body and his mind. Mohsen started with a four-day-a-week intensive program.
The program involved gym-based exercise, strength and conditioning as well as therapy to help Mohsen complete everyday activities and return to life in the community. The multidisciplinary team includes physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, psychologists and rehabilitation physicians. The team meets weekly to discuss the treatment plan and rehabilitation path, and set goals for rehabilitation of each patient.
Adrian says that once they had a program in place, it was hard to hold Mohsen back.
“Rather than worry he wasn’t getting enough exercise, we had to work on getting him to slow down, as over training can become an issue,” Adrian says.
After being in the program for a few months, Mohsen’s mobility improved dramatically. He was able to bend his knee a full 90 degrees within 12 weeks of doing the program.
A component of successful rehabilitation through the Amputee Program includes learning to drive again for community access and independence, and Mohsen has successfully regained his driver’s licence through the Return To Driving Program.
Adrian says the team at Epworth Hawthorn believed Mohsen could train as a Paralympian, and helped identify throwing sports as the ideal classification due to his strength. Another therapist introduced him to a coach, and the rest is history.
Mohsen says training has helped him with his depression and provided great goals for him in his recovery journey.
He has competed in two Australian Championships in Javelin and Discus, where he has won both gold and silver medals.
Mohsen and his wife Fatemeh credit the supportive rehabilitation team at Epworth Hawthorn for playing a great part in his success.
“The quality of care has been wonderful. The rehab team have taught Mohsen how to get back to strength, and have been really helpful – it is heartwarming,” Fatemeh says. “They have also been great at understanding our culture, language and customs.”
While a shoulder injury put his Rio Paralympics dream on hold, 37-year-old Mohsen hopes to be fit for the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018 and future Paralympics.
“There is a Japanese Paralympian who is 60, so I have plenty of years to come. There is no limitation if I can keep my body healthy,” Mohsen adds. “Sport has been a great way to inspire me to get back to normal life. I am very goal oriented and this has helped me enormously. The team here have also been very patient with me, as recovery with a prosthesis can be very frustrating at times.”