ANGUS McConnel was on his pushbike, riding down Memorial Drive towards the Cooks Hill Surf Club, when it happened.
He was hit by a turning car. The driver had not seen him.
The car was written off, and Mr McConnel was left with a C7 spinal cord injury, a broken collar bone, and a smashed cheek.
"The car came off second best, but I didn't do all that well either," he said.
"I'm still here, I suppose."
That was seven years ago. The Merewether man, a father of three, was 41.
"Once I was stitched up and stable, the message was clear - 'Don't worry about anything from the neck down, you won't be able to do anything with it'," Mr McConnel, now 48, said.
"You tend to believe someone who has a certificate on the wall and wears a white coat. You hang off the messages they give you, and for me at the time, it was to forget about the neck down."
But Mr McConnel had always been an active man. For years, he had taught children how to swim at the surf club.
He was introduced to Rohan O'Reilly - a personal trainer with a reputation for trying to help "medical orphans" after other therapists ran out of options.
He had begun using technology, such as virtual reality (VR), in rehabilitation.
It means Mr McConnel has been able to climb, fly and shoot "virtually" while doing his rehabilitation exercises. It had kept things interesting. Challenging. Exciting.
"You feel like you're in that world, you are completely immersed in the environment you're in," he said.
"Be it scuba diving underwater, climbing Everest, shooting little cartoon figures with a bow and arrow, it's all exciting and it's all different and stimulates different nerve pathways in your body."
He uses a machine that stimulates and "pulses" his muscles and nerves.
"Once they turn it off, you'll be able to see me move my foot, which someone with my injury shouldn't be able to do," he said. "The first time you stand upright again... after three months, six months, 12 months of lying flat on your back or sitting in a chair - to stand upright and be at eye level with everyone again is so rewarding, and it's such a good feeling. There's something inhuman about you if you don't cry that day.
"With a spinal cord injury, you hit rock bottom, and from there it is an uphill trajectory depending on how hard you want to push it.
"That's what I had to work out for myself. To find someone like Rohan, who was prepared to remove the goal posts and open up the road in front to see how far I could take it, was what I needed."
In November, Mr O'Reilly teamed up with Craig Hewat, a physiotherapist who founded Ethos Health.
They opened Engage VR - thought to be the first multi-disciplinary virtual reality rehabilitation clinic in Australia.
They mostly focus on neurological clients - so people who have had a stroke, have Parkinson's or have suffered brain and spinal injuries.
"It has given me back hope," Mr McConnel said. "That's the best thing. Hope is everything. I could have just been doing nothing. Letting my legs waste away - which causes more issues.
"Whereas I'm leading a pretty healthy life. I pushed 24 kilometres over the weekend, and I'm doing stuff, rather than sitting back and waiting to die. You move it, or lose it."
Mr Hewat said one of the biggest challenges in rehabilitation therapy was compliance - keeping clients engaged and motivated while they went through their exercises. But using virtual and augmented reality technology had allowed clients to focus on the fun, while their therapist concentrated on getting them to reach individual targets and goals.
"We can put them in an environment where they think, 'This is cool', but what they don't see is we are trying to help them achieve certain physiological markers as well," Mr Hewat said.
"As far as they are concerned, they are riding through the south of France, or riding a horse and trying to lasso people, fighting off zombies - but we are focusing on their balance, we 're looking at their heart rate, what resistance they are on, how long they have done it for, peddle speed - all the physiological stuff. So sitting behind it all is a program we have written, as a group, to achieve certain markers."
Mr Hewat said emerging research into the neuroplasticity of the brain was beginning to show the brains ability to "rewire itself", or reconnect pathways, when put into a new environment.
"I've noticed a huge difference in people's balance before and after VR," he said.
"The whole brain tends to light up.
"With the data we're collecting we are starting to show some good results.
"We look at a few KPIs too, and sit down with the clients every six weeks.
"It's pretty powerful when we show them a video of how they walked 12 weeks ago, and how they are walking now."
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