The Monday Memo
April 8, 2013 PITT DPT STUDENTS
The Opportunity of Adversity
We are nearing the end of our first year of school. I would list the topics that we have covered thus far, but it would take too long, and frankly, you wouldn’t read it. I will point out that being in a physical therapy program, a fairly salient topic has been that of ‘disability’.
In the TED Talk by Aimee Mullins, she addresses the definition of ‘disability’. Being a bilateral amputee herself, she literally has a lifetime of experience being categorized by that word. If you have ever listened to Aimee’s TED Talks, however, you would understand her frustration by the definition. Further, you would likely take note of her relationship with ‘adversity.’
During her discussion, she states, “adversity is not an obstacle we need to get around in order to resume life.” In fact, the question is not whether or not you will meet adversity, but how you will meet it. I will continue that thought by asking, “how will you let the experience shape your character?”
Adaptation is one of our greatest human skills, as noted in this talk. It is so great, that we do not know our own power and ability of adaptation unless challenged. As physical therapy students, we are asked to challenge ourselves regularly, but we also are beginning to learn the skill of asking our patients to do the same.
Being in this program, we are equipping ourselves with the tools to recognize and embrace adversity. We are discovering the role we play as an integral part of our patient’s health and well-being (Aimee mentions memories of PT in her talk!). To that end, we have to make sure that we do not lay the first brick in a wall that will actually disable someone. It is our responsibility as professionals to recognize adversity, allow growing pains to occur, and accept that challenges are what will make us the physical therapist that someone will point out as “the one that redefined ability.”
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