Introducing Divergent Guest: Philippa (Pip) Cave

By Litmus Media

"Pip is passionate about rehabilitation and allowing individuals to set their own goals. Since graduating as a physiotherapist in 2005 she initially worked with elite athletes until she began working with an athlete who sustained a Spinal Cord Injury playing NRL.

Pip realised this was where her passion lay, helping people be the best that they can be. It also highlighted to her the lack of treatment options available to individuals with a Spinal Cord Injury and other life changing conditions, so she started Breaking Boundaries. Pip believes strongly in a patient-centred approach and will move mountains to help the Breaking Boundaries members achieve what they want to in life. The answer is never 'no'. It is only 'how'. No-one should ever remove your hope or dreams." -
From the Breaking Boundaries website

Breaking Boundaries is a rehabilitation centre based in Mayfield, New South Wales, which places a focus on allowing individuals a space to train to reach their goals.

Below is an excerpt from the episode 'Neuro Pain, Neuro Gain', where Calum explains the significance of Breaking Boundaries for him:

"Like all things in my life that happened post-injury, moving to Newcastle is part of the story of navigating my disability. It’s also the place where I want you to situate yourself in for this episode as I take you to the neurological rehab I have been attending for the last year or so, called Breaking Boundaries.

Places like Breaking Boundaries, which are mainly called activity based therapy or neurological recovery centres can be hard to find for someone with a disability, because it is often attached to an unfamiliar world. Breaking Boundaries is a gym with big open roller doors in the industrial area of east Mayfield, a ten minute drive from where I’m living at the moment.

Breaking Boundaries is a neurological rehab which aims to identify each individuals ‘goals ’and figure out ways to support them toward those goals, whether this is addressed in the gym, at home or by a referral to another service for things like chronic pain or bowel and bladder issues and many more issues that come with the various disabilities that they help with. ‘Goals’ is very much a loaded word in Australia’s National Disability Insurance scheme vocabulary, as it is a benchmark associated with funding.

For me, it might have been this initial concept of a ‘goal’ that got me through the roller door to breaking boundaries. At this time though, I lacked perspective as to all the things associated with my disability, so my initial ‘goal’ was almost purely to do with physical recovery. At the time I was hardly exposed in person to anyone with a disability or people working everyday with divergent bodies, with an actual understanding of how that divergence might affect the individual. Each time I came in, at the beginning to Breaking Boundaries, I would chat to other gym goers while waiting for my session to start or just after it finished. We’d ask each other things like:

“Hey, how are you?”

“How are things going for you with your NDIS plan?”

“You know what you should try? It helps me the most with my neuropathic pain”

“Can I tell you about something that’s really bothering me this week?”

Then I would look up to see someone moving in a different way or reaching and lifting something for the first time.

Everyone would silently hold in their cheers so as not to distract the person mid exercise. This type of community feel is contagious and I think it was at that time, after starting out with Breaking Boundaries that I started to explore reducing some of my mental health medications that were prescribed as a band-aid, to cope with the isolation of my injury, the difference in my divergence.

Breaking Boundaries became a place that linked me in with, I have to say, some of the most important parts around the wider treatment of my disability. I could have conversations there about spinal cord injury specific things, about the barriers people face, about the larger questions that interested me and be met with openness and thoughtful responses.

Then I would walk out the roller door to my support workers car or play phone tag with the taxi driver trying to find their way up the industrial drive, feeling differently than when I came in and thinking about how that movement, but not just movement, that connection, conversation and education has made me feel curious to keep learning and exploring until next time I’m back. Now I know I have a place to go. Before then … I didn’t.

Taxi drivers always get confused finding the pick-up location for people after their sessions because it’s one of those places that sends Google Maps into a hole of confusion.

Similar to these taxi drivers, unless you know about it already or have been told about it, neuro rehabs like Breaking Boundaries can be a hard place to find for someone with a disability."