Tuesday, 16 April 2024
    A career designing wheelchairs

    A career designing wheelchairs

    Matt McShane never considered going to university — or representing his country wearing green and gold — until he started using a wheelchair when he was 18, ABC News reports.

    It was basketball that helped Matt, now 31, adjust to being told he would never walk again.

    But he realised early that there were some big problems with his new equipment.

    “It’s very hard for people playing parasport,” he says.

    “The equipment costs north of $10,000 for a basketball chair.

    “For most parasports, equipment is expensive and when you’re just starting out it’s hard to get in a situation where you can afford the luxury of being able to afford it or borrow it. It’s very tough.”

    Matt represented Australia at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in wheelchair basketball.

    Matt was training to become a mechanic at 18 when he ended up in hospital for nine months as a result of transverse myelitis, a neurological condition that caused his spinal cord to become inflamed.

    Following Matt’s rehabilitation, he enrolled in an industrial design course at Griffith University on the Gold Coast.

    He has since started a home-based business where he measures up other people with mobility issues to make sure they’re properly fitted into the right wheelchair.

    “It’s a big thing,” he says.

    “It’s not something to hold you back – if it’s the right chair set up and the right piece of equipment it can really thrust you forward into a lot more with your life.

    “So it’s very important to get it to suit the user.”

    Matt started the business to get him through uni and says it “blew up” as it timed with the NDIS rollout and says it has kept him busy while also juggling being a full-time athlete.


    Paralympian Matt McShane turned an illness into a career designing wheelchairs (ABC News)


    Paralympian Matt McShane is a full-time athlete runs a business fitting others into the right wheelchair.(Supplied: Griffith University)