Dinesh Palipana was a focused, determined, enthusiastic medicine student at Griffith University when his life changed forever on a rainy night in 2010.

Today, the 32-year-old remains equally determined and just as focused on forging a career in medicine in spite of the road traffic accident on Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge that left him without feeling or movement from the chest down.

“I knew I’d been paralysed before anyone even mentioned it to me, I just didn’t realise it was to the extent of becoming quadriplegic. Even in the ambulance, the first thing that occurred to me was, I still need to get this medicine degree done and get on with my career. That was so important to me.”

A long road ahead

But there was a long road ahead; Dinesh’s spine had been dislocated at the neck, essentially squashing the cord that supplies feeling and movement to any part of the body from the chest down.

“Professor Harry McConnell and others from the School of Medicine were fantastic in communicating to me about how it could work if I came back to my studies and thoroughly supported me in my decision to eventually return to year 3 medicine in January 2015.”

Dinesh was met with warmth back at Griffith, and if there were ever any doubts over what he could achieve as a trainee doctor, they were sorely mistaken. First off, he achieved high grades in the mid-year exams, despite having had the five-year break from medicine.

Although classified as a quadriplegic, he has some feeling on the outside of his forearms. Dinesh is able to feed himself and get around in his wheelchair without help, having learnt various intricate ways of getting around the lack of hand movement over the past six years.

“I can’t however carry out a rectal examination! And I may have typical doctor’s handwriting!

“I am thinking now that I may specialise in radiology. Neurology is appealing too. Medicine is so broad with so many fantastic options. Luckily I have some fantastic people around me at Griffith, who have been great advocates of me, as well as my amazing mother (Chithrani) who has always been there for me.

“I am pretty lucky really. Yeah I guess I must have wanted this career pretty bad.”


Dinesh Palipana has graduated from Griffith University as a Doctor of Medicine, after his study was interrupted by a tragic car accident that left him a quadriplegic.

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