Paul White – Afflicted with Guillain Barre Syndrome

In July last year, on the eve of his daughter’s tenth birthday, Paul White discovered he was having trouble lifting his shoulder. By the end of the evening Paul couldn’t even hold a teacup and his condition deteriorated so badly that the next day he was admitted to intensive care.

Paul was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, often causing paralysis as a result.

Now almost a year later, and after six months in hospital (two in intensive care), Paul still has no movement in his arms or legs. He is based fulltime at Rehab Plus in Pt Chevalier where he is undergoing intensive physiotherapy to help him build up his muscles and get movement back.

Prior to the onset of this debilitating syndrome, Paul was an engineer with a boat-building company, carrying out very physical work. Paul’s goal is to re-train in the boat-building industry as a boat designer, with the goal of eventually resuming employment with his old company in a new role. The course itself will be full-time,two to three years and based at Unitec in Pt Chevalier.

The Mazda Foundation grant of $3,800 enabled Paul to purchase a special laptop computer and laser operated keyboard. The equipment, developed by New Zealand technology company Lomak International, enables Paul to use the computer through a light operated mouse and keyboard. A small laser attached to his visor means that by moving his head to direct the laser, Paul can activate the mouse and keyboard.

“Having this equipment is going to be great for me long-term, but it has already been a major help. It is all portable so I can take it home with me during my weekend day visits and it means I can access email and the outside world! It has really enhanced my independence so that I don’t need to rely on someone else.”