The Paralympics

Just back from two days at the Paralympics; very inspiring and as entertaining as the able-bodied games. There has been a lot of comments on the blog in relation to the Paralympics, Atos the sponsors and whether or not supporting the paralympics is a good or bad thing for MSers.

What do you think?

It is clear, apart from rare exceptions, that most paralympians have fixed disabilities, i.e. their deficits are unlikely to get worse. In the case of MS progression of the disease is likely to make participating difficult, i.e. a moving target with increasing disability. Saying that I must congratulate Stephanie Millward on her remarkable achievement in the pool; well done! 

Do you think the MS community would embrace an MS Games or something of that nature? The aim would be to embrace sport, and exercise, as way to help MSers with disabilities. We could set-up an asynchronous competition that would allow MSers from all over the world to participate. Just an idea!

The controversial post:

29 Aug 2012
WheelChairs. The 14th paralympics start in London today and this week many people will see wheelchair users (and blade runners, blind, deaf and walking enabled etc.) in a whole new light. Best of Luck to Everyone 

11 thoughts on “The Paralympics”

  1. Firstly, the negative suggestion that MSers are unlikely to be able to participate in the Paralympics runs counter to the very spirit of the Games and undoes much of the value of the inspiration people like Stephanie provide. Whereas her achievements say to MSers – have hope, you can still achieve great things despite the condition, this says, you're going to get worse so don't bother…What I don't understand is how MSers are assessed for eligibility etc. Many with RRMS have no/little physical disability. I could hold my own against any able bodies athlete (if I was good at sports that is, which I'm not!). How does this work? An MSer with EDSS 0.5 can't surely be pitched against one with EDSS6??!

  2. Dear Anonymous – the tone of your comment suggests great insecurity on your own part and some denial. MS is almost invisible in some MSers and profoundly disabling in others. Just because an MSers feels no symptoms doesn't mean their MS is not active and silently doing damage that may materialise all of a sudden.

  3. I think Feldenkrais and some Yoga are great for MSers. Sport does not have to be competitive and can be fun! However, not great spectator sports 🙂

  4. I don't understand the reply above. The fact that "MS is almost invisible in some MSers and profoundly disabling in others" is the point surely? How do you pitch one against the other in competition or people with MS against those with other disabilities? If I have MS but I have no symptoms or some mild cognitive issues or even, say, some speech problems or blurred vision – does that automatically qualify me for the Paralympics? And, if so, against who is it fair I compete? Someone with MD? The point is that MS is not a disability; MS is an illness which can cause disability of very varying severity and nature.

  5. It would be interesting to know if people with say Crohn's disease or arthritis are also seen as disabled and confined to Paralympics? Or do they participate in the Olympics? All are chronic diseases.I think the point "that MS is not a disability; MS is an illness which can cause disability of very varying severity and nature." is valid.I have to admit I was at first a bit surprised that MSers are seen as disabled even if any disability is present. If a competing RRMSer with EDSS 1 fights against someone with no leg than surely the one-leg person has a huge disadvantage. Also who assumes that they surely must be EDSS 6 at some point in their career – was it God Almighty?

  6. Having MS does not qualify for Paralympics on its own. It is part of 'Les Autres' category – which means 'the others' and for anyone who does not fit the other disability categories. However, to qualify, you still then have to be 'classified' ie assessed for your chosen sport in a range of areas eg muscle strength, range of motion, ataxia etc. This determines (a) if you are disabled enough to qualify for the games at all in your sport and, if so, (b) how severe your disability is so as to pitch you against similarly disabled competitors. Most RRMSers (in contrast to PPMS or SPMSers) wouldn't qualify unless they could show sustained disability (outside of a time limited relapse) severe enough for meet the entry criteria.

  7. There's no reason why a minimally effected MSer would be 'confined' to the Paralympics – if they wanted to compete in the Olympics there'd be nothing stopping them. Being eligible for the Paras doesn't preclude entry to the Olympics – look at Oscar Pistorious…

  8. I don't think it makes sense to compare MSers to others or to each other. The range of disability is huge (from 0 to death) and most of it is unseen and unrecognised even by the sufferers themselves. Everyone's case is unique and there's no control. MS is a diagnosis, not a disability. IMHO.

  9. I have MS sinds 2008 and i feel it getting worse every time i stop and think to compair it with months ago. It may not be a disability at first but it is getting there. When i look at myself in comperisment with 3 years ago it is getting to the disability area. If i need a cane to just walk 500 meters i consider that to be a disability in comperisment with 4-5 years ago when i was a compatative swimmer and without any efort swimming 7 km every training 8 times a week and now i cant even swim 1 km every week. That is the disability. So if i wanna i could compette in the paralympics. Or should i wait antil i really get in a whealchair? Is that disabalt enough?

  10. What i don't understand in some of he comments above why ms should be considered special from other disabilities. Probably most with some sort of illness or dissability consider themselves unique. Nonsens of course. There are millions of ms'ers and many more with other 'unique' illnesses. The clue of he Paralympics is to classify all kinds of dissabilities regardless of their origine. And if the level of dissabilty vary over time they get simply reassesed. In this way competitors are motivated to get the best out of them and winners are recognised as best achievers. Not much different with non disabled who compete with different levels of talents.

  11. Any disease category that is in flux or can change (better or worse) is in the "other" category. I have MS and have been classified many times always into a higher level of disability. Those people who, for example have a spinal injury at a certain level or an amputation are not reclassified because presumably, their level of disability stays the same. MS presents unique challenges but we can still compete in most Paralympic sports.

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