Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A Precursor to The Para Olympics

Last night the  Olympic flame returned "home" to Britain's first para Olympic village(namely the Guttman centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital), before it's journey to Stratford today.
I know the "village" well.
It was first built for the 1948 Stoke Mandeville Games which was the precursor for the paraolympics and every year the 11 spinal injury units from around Britain still send small hand picked teams of competitors from within their in-patient population to take part in an inter-Spinal Injury Unit games,
This "small scale" mini competition is viewed very much part as a patient's rehabilitation, as it is often the very first time a newly injured individual has to "stretch their wings" so to speak
I remember these times with great affection because they were essentially a five day hard slog and party fest for nurse helpers,physios and patients alike.
At these games, the newly injured, many of whom had never left the safety of a rehabilitation unit, suddenly had freedom to experience new sports and meet new people, in an atmosphere of positivism and normality.

Sheffield's latest team-- patients and staff members
 Risks were taken and to be honest,encouraged. Copious amounts of alcohol were drunk and many young men and women ( disabled and able bodied) had a cracking good time doing what young people from all corners of this country do when they get together, they had fun.
Rehabilitation in our modern  nhs is a knotty  kind of problem I think. In these days of risk assessment and litigation, I imagine it is much harder to justify the type of "seat of your pants" rehab experience we inflicted on our patients in days gone by compared to today's more careful and linear care planned-to-death experience.
Bloody hell, I remember trying to change a patient's suprapubic catheter in the middle of the night after I and he had quaffed far too many cans of cider ( our faces was smeared with half a ton of takeaway pizza btw) and all the time we were  battling with this knotty problem my staff nurse "helper" was throwing up in one of the Guttman's vast disabled toilets!)
Professional? not really
Proper and vital rehabilitation?........ absolutely!


  1. I thought the term "Paralympic" was derived from "Olympic" and "paraplegic"..but now I realise that the "para" ingredient is actually "paralytic"!

  2. Having worked with disabled children for 20 years it seems that we are allowing them to take less and less risks. We've all done some pretty silly stuff in our time but these kids have that denied to them.

  3. Risk averse = boring!

  4. Anonymous11:54 am

    Agree with you John... absolutely

  5. Absolutely fantastic John.
    Jo xx

  6. Life should be lived to the fullest despite the challenges.

  7. I read today reports of chronic under-funding of post-surgical care services, hindering the recovery of stroke and head injury patients. Is this government totally heartless and ruthless?

  8. Loved this post John - it should be read alongside my blog today.

  9. I love these games and I love the idea that people are encouraged to live their lives fully.

  10. Great post John, I agree with you all the way.

  11. That's sounds just how it should be! Fabulous..some risk is good for everyone...

    There was a fantastic drama-documentary on about Guttman the other night...well worth seeking out

  12. Anonymous5:58 pm

    and way normal...sometimes the old ways were the best ways. Certainly more productive for the patient and more interesting for the nurse! well apart from the hurling in the potty ;)

  13. Treat these patients like they're wrapped in bubble wrap, and they'll get hung up on the things they can't do. Challenge them to do more, and they'll adapt and thrive because of the things they CAN do.

  14. Absolutely agree with you, John.
    And what better way for them to get to practice their new skills than with a staff of nurses and physios on hand to help. They get to try stuff that they might well encounter in the 'real world'.

  15. Getting out of your "comfort zone" can be great therapy and should be encouraged!

  16. I can only add, "Right On".

  17. Brilliant post.

    Conjures great images.


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