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Can disabilities be called so?

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Learning disabilities editor Liv reflects on her current placement at a brain injury rehabilitation hospital — and how she’s learned an important lesson is just a few weeks.

Following on from my previous blog about Isabella Springmühl, a woman with Down’s syndrome who has created her own fashion label, I was encouraged to delve deeper into the life of people with so-called “disabilities”.

Throughout my journey as a student nurse, I have found myself constantly surprised by the people I meet and the strength of the human spirit. Most notably for me personally are those in the brain injury rehabilitation hospital that I have been on placement at the past few weeks.

“We don’t know all the amazing things we can do until we’re truly challenged.”

I have met people with life-altering brain injuries who have a more positive view on the future than most. This led me to think about the negative way disabilities are often viewed and portrayed. Really, we don’t know all the amazing things we can do until we’re truly challenged.

It is a well-known anomaly that we find our ultimate strength by getting right down to the point of feeling like we can’t take any more. But then we pick ourselves back up, and we try again. Someone once said to me, “Take heed of the bad times. You never grow in the good times”. This is something I will never forget, and it has rung true for me throughout my adult life.

“What others might see as a weakness can become a person’s utmost strength.”

Stephen Hawking was given five years to live in his 20s, but he is still with us today. It is impossible to know the influence he would have had in the scientific community if he did not have motor neurone disease. But the impact he has had because of his disease has made him one of the most famous people in the world.

So as nurses, we must remember that what others might see as a weakness can become a person’s utmost strength.

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