Friday, September 22, 2017

The Problem of Denial?

I wanted to highlight this mother's efforts to help her son and form a network for others in similar situations.  Kay Ledson and her son Josh Wood have fought his cervical spinal cord injury for years, and he is walking again.  She is about to begin a walk across America to promote SCI awareness and activity-based therapy.  To quote from an article in The San Diego Union-Tribune:

"Doctors diagnosed him as a complete quadriplegic who would never get out of bed again. . . .
'I got really angry,' she said of her meeting with the doctors. 'I told them ‘you don’t know me and you don’t know my son. My son will walk again.’ And the doctor said ‘that’s the problem with moms like you.’ '
"The problem, as Ledson has written and spoken about worldwide, is that moms like her never give up hope for recovery and she spent every day for years working the muscles in his limbs until he was able to move them himself. Today, he walks with a cane, snowboards, rides a motorcycle and is married with a young son."

Unfortunately, Ledson's encounter with her son's doctors is not unusual.  Traditional medicine does not have a positive view of SCI recovery.  Most of the time, the outlook is harmfully limiting: you are encouraged not to believe that you can recover or improve beyond a set expectation.  If you deny a prescribed outcome of "you'll never walk again," you are often seen as if you deny having an injury at all.  Yet the two types of denial are profoundly different.  Saying that there can be improvement after an injury is a far cry from saying that there is no injury.  As Ledson and her son have shown, denial of the negative limitations can be a healthy attitude.  Every injury is different.  Individual outcomes are also different.  That shouldn't be denied.

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