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CPL Nick Wiseman
SITTING down on the job is part of life as a
plant operator but at the Avalon air show in
2009 LAC Stephen Stibbe was forced to the
ground after the tail gate of his Mack dump
truck fell and hit him on the head.
"It scalped me a bit and sat me on the bum,"
"It wasn't until after I got bandaged up that
the headaches, aches and pains started."
Later back at RAAF Base Richmond he
started getting more aches in his arms and
was referred to physiotherapists who helped
with the pain and told him to come back if it
In 2011 LAC Stibbe was posted to RAAF
Base Townsville where he deployed to assist in
cleaning up the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi.
After three days of driving dump trucks and
cleaning the area, the aches and pains in his
arms returned. After slowly getting worse, he
thought he had better get help again.
Expecting to be prescribed medication and
rest, LAC Stibbe was surprised to be referred
to a neurosurgeon.
An MRI scan indicated problems in his
neck and spine that required surgery to correct.
He said before getting approval for surgery
he had to complete a function and capacity test
to determine how much difference the surgery
"The result from the test was better than
expected so they agreed to go through with the
surgery," he said.
"I ended up getting two discs removed and
fusion done on the vertebrae in my neck."
The operation was completed in February
this year with LAC Stibbe returning to light
duties in March. He is still in the post-oper-
ation period doing some physiotherapy until
further appointments later this month.
Once his response to the surgery is deter-
mined, a detailed rehabilitation plan will be
developed to allow him to recover as best he
can.The injury he received has had a large
impact on his quality of life with even the
smallest chores around the house becoming a
He said at one point while trying to clean
and vacuum the car, he had to stop due to pain.
"I'm getting help from friends and family
to look after the lawns and other jobs at home I
would normally do myself," he said.
"It's just so frustrating."
LAC Stibbe said thanks to the ADF medi-
cal system, he had been given the best possible
chance to recover and continue his 11-year
career with Air Force, and he looked forward
to getting "back in the driver's seat".
For information on the ADF's Support for Wounded,
Injured or Ill Program, see over the page.
April 26, 2012
ON THE WAY TO RECOVERY: Plant
operator LAC Stephen Stibbe, of
1AOSS, RAAF Base Townsville, is
looking forward to getting back in the
driver's seat after finishing rehabilitation
for a neck injury incurred in 2009.
Photo: CPL Casey Smith
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