What I Learned from Working with People Who Had Been Paralyzed
Paralysis is not something most people want to think about. It is difficult to imagine the inability to move, control your body, and do basic daily tasks without assistance. When I went to PT school, I envisioned myself doing pretty much exactly what I am doing now: helping people PREVENT disease and disability. I wanted to own a clinic where people had the opportunity to learn how to exercise, eat well, structure their lives, and continue thriving in all times of life.
So how did I end up at Craig Hospital - the world-renowned neurologic rehab facility specializing in brain injury and spinal cord injury? It's a long story, but I was more and more interested in neurological rehab and neuro anatomy as I made my way through Physical Therapy school at CU. I think it was both the fascination with the science as well as the opportunity to help people in the most critical time of need in their lives. I wanted to be there for them ... to encourage them that their identity is not sorely wrapped up in the physical body. I had the deep convictsion that I was created to serve other people in whatever way I could and encourage them to find joy through pain.
How does this relate to what I do now with prevention and health promotion? The only way I can explain it is this: once you see what people go through after the most random accidents such as car accidents, "wrong place wrong time" bad luck, a brain aneurism that leads to a stroke, a metal plate smashes into the spine leaving that person paralyzed ... and on and on ... you realize just how precious our time here on earth is and that movement is a key part of our life.
Do you know that a person who is paralyzed and in a wheelchair would give anything to be able to stand up and just walk to a bathroom and go to the bathroom normally. Not to mention the ability to go for a long walk, jog, hike, crawl on the floor, take a shower standing up. Most people have no idea how much they take for granted from morning until evening.
That is why I want people to find the joy in movement. Don't just focus on exercise, but enjoy movement. It is a gift that we have been given and we can lose it in a split second. I don't intend for this post to make you feel guilty or fearful, but rather inspire you to take every opportunity to move every joint, dance, lift, run, jump, play while you can. Don't just do it for yourself, do it for those people who would give anything to have your physical abilities.
So as the weather turns and we are in the depths of winter, ask yourself why you are letting the weather dictate your ability to enjoy movement. Find a way to find the joy through the cold.