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‘STOP using ‘bad’ to describe a person’s body part.’: Limb difference advocate urges ‘teach people to love their bodies’

man holding woman with prosthetic leg in air on beach next to same woman crouched on grass

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“One of my all time greatest pet peeves as a therapist and someone with limb differences is when another healthcare professional uses the word ‘bad’ to describe a person’s body part.

I’ve heard therapists, who are quite good at physical rehabilitation, use phrases like:

  • ‘Okay, now use your ‘good’ arm to pull the shirt sleeve over your ‘bad’ arm.’
  • ‘Go up the stairs with your ‘good’ leg and go down with the ‘bad.”
  • ‘You’re going to want to lead with your ‘good’ leg to step over into the tub and then step over with the ‘bad’ leg.’
  • ‘Use your ‘good’ arm to help the ‘bad’ arm.’

The list goes on…

If you or someone you know has used these phrases or something similar in the past, consider the patient after they have reached all of their goals. They are where they hoped to be functionally. But, they go on referring to their arm or leg as ‘bad,’ because, well, you taught them if their arm doesn’t look or function like most do, then it’s bad.

This story originally appeared on Love What Matters.

I cannot tell the number of patients I have seen over this past year who still use the words ‘bad arm/leg’ because that phrase stayed with them from past therapists.

Mental health is a significant piece of rehabilitation that can greatly affect the physical. Attention to physical and mental rehabilitation for all patients makes a great and empathetic therapist, in this new OT graduate’s humble opinion.

Instead of BAD and GOOD arms/legs, use:

  • Directional terms (right/left)
  • Affected/Nonaffected (as appropriate)
  • Recovering Arm/Leg (as appropriate)

Obviously, do not use the last two if someone was born with their condition. Stop using the word ‘bad’ to describe a person’s arms and legs. Teach people to accept and love their bodies.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Audrey. You can follow their journey on Instagram

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