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Practice makes perfect: Dr Lung’s swift return to work with support from JobAccess

After a cycling accident in early 2019 resulted in paraplegia, Jeremy Lung, a well-respected dentist from Sydney, felt like everything was taken away. But with the support of a trusted mentor as well as JobAccess, he was back in the swing of things before the year was out.

Dr Lung clearly enjoys his work at the family dental clinic in Epping, New South Wales, where he practices alongside his mother and father. Specialising in dental implants, he talks animatedly about his surgeries and all the ongoing learning to keep up with the complex surgical aspects of dentistry and implant therapy.

For a time, Dr Lung wondered whether he would ever get back in his dentist chair and indeed his entire career and future hung in the balance after he was involved in a life-threatening accident while pursuing another passion, road cycling.

But while the accident has permanently changed his life, Dr Lung is back looking after the dental needs of his community and doing what he does best thanks to his own personal determination, as well as guidance from an incredible implant surgeon mentor and practical support from JobAccess.

After the accident

Hearing the news that you have a spinal cord injury is devastating because the world as you know it changes forever. Dr Lung questioned whether it was possible to get back to work at all.

“There’s just so much going on at that time, so much that’s life-changing. You have to get used to so much. You’re thinking that it’s over, all the training I’ve received, all the investment there is just lost,” he explains. “When the accident happened, I felt like everything was taken away.”

Luckily for him a senior implant surgeon and dentist would regularly visit Dr Lung at Royal Rehab, where he spent his rehabilitation following his spinal cord injury. This dentist completed many of the cases that Dr Lung had begun before the accident and told him that after seeing his work it would be a waste if he didn’t go back to dentistry.

“He was very influential because he was just like, ‘what’s stopping you? There’s work sitting down, there’s the assistants standing up and handing you everything you need.’ He was the most instrumental in my recovery,” Dr Lung recalls.

Practical support at a difficult time

While Dr Lung’s mentor helped him to regain his confidence, Royal Rehab provided practical back-to-work support, linking him up with a dentist who had worked out of a wheelchair, and with Anthea, a JobAccess Assessor.

Through Anthea, he successfully applied for funding modifications to the dental surgery through JobAccess, including a new entry, handrails on all the walls, a new disabled toilet, and a clinic chair to support hours-long dental surgeries.

“They made everything accessible, and they paid for a chair that I worked out of all the time, initially,” he says.

“Then they looked at all of the options in terms of modifications. But because I still have function in my right foot, I don’t need any modifications except for the bigger surgeries I have a different chair to sit in that’s a little sturdier.”

Dr Lung says having someone else think about practical adjustments in the workplace is extremely helpful in the aftermath of an accident when you don’t have the capacity to think through these matters.

“I think someone else thinking about it and making it possible for you to do that is huge. At the time you’re barely functional so to have that figured out for you is very helpful. You don’t have to figure out how to get back to work yourself, it’s done for you,” he explains.

“There’s still lots of modifications required and stuff to get used to, but it just made it a lot easier to get back in that space.”

Recovery and looking ahead to a bright future

Despite experiencing a severe brain injury and paraplegia from the accident, by the end of 2019 Dr Lung was back in surgery, which he credits with speeding up his recovery.

“I just remember going back to work and your mind is kind of cloudy post brain injury. But when I sat down for those surgeries and when I engaged in dentistry again, I felt like my brain went into a level of clarity, it went into another gear,” he says.

“I remember thinking, ‘Yes this is it, you’re in the flow.’ It’s like everything else gets blanked away and you’re just thinking about the surgery in front of you, how to put the pieces together. I think it probably helped my recovery.”

Dr Lung says he was made for dentistry in many ways before the accident and all the support he’s received has helped him to continue on his career path.

“This is Jeremy 2.0, and this is the path forward. I’m so blessed and thankful that I have this. I can move forward in life.”

For more details about Dr Jeremy Lung’s recovery, you can visit www.drjeremylung.com.au.

Like to learn more?

JobAccess has managed over 58,000 applications for funding workplace adjustments since 2006. Each one makes a difference by helping people with disability get work, keep work and progress their careers.

Contact JobAccess on 1800 464 800 to speak to our friendly and resourceful Advisers about workplace adjustments and the Employment Assistance Fund. You can also submit an online enquiry through the JobAccess website.

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