Paralympian Stephen Morris


Seek first to understand.” Steve Covey

Embrace the failure to have the answer or remedy for everything. Sometimes the question is more important that the answer. And in medicine, often the diagnosis is more important than the prescription. As any House episode will portray, once you have a well done diagnosis, often the prescription writes itself.

My wife Lori works for the UK Epilepsy Society as a Communication Therapist and the lion’s share of her work is diagnosis. Once you know as well as possible what is going on, then you can best treat it. Especially with lifelong conditions like epilepsy, treatment is not a magic pill you take (though many forms of epilepsy can be very effectively treated with medication), her clients are much more disabled with more severe forms of the condition as well as other disabilities co-presenting. These people have care teams and treatment is often a matter of care prescriptions that a range of people, including family, follow.

It’s not just in treatment, but other dimensions where the diagnosis itself has powerful impact. Cheap detection of things like HIV has been essential to arresting its epidemic spread long before effective treatment was available.

Advances in assessment even plays a central role in this week’s Paralympic Games. Assessments in general provide the level playing field that enable a broad cross-section of disabled to participate. These games, in particular, feature a step forward for learning disabled as explained by Andrew Longmore’s Sunday Times article “The disability you cannot see” (paywalled)…

  • “News that the Spanish intellectually disabled basketball team, winners of the gold medal in Sydney, included an engineer, a lawyer and several students led the International Paralympic Committee to ban learning disability athletes from future Games. Years of research, analysis and rigorous testing have now produced a formula for eligibility and classification acceptable to the IPC.”

Good Games and Welcome to London for all Paralympians!