Doctor’s Paralyzing Injury Brings New Perspective

This doctor, paralyzed from the waist down, advocates that disability is not inability after he regained movement in his leg just 2 months after his accident.
Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, M.D., M.S., was in his third year of residency at Yale New Haven Hospital when he suffered a traumatic spine injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

He never lost his faith that he would be able to walk again, and just two months after his accident, he was able to move his leg again.

“I have an interesting intersection of science and faith, such that even if doctors had said to me I would never walk again, I wasn’t going to let that limit what I hoped for my recovery,” Okanlami shared. “I know there is so much we don’t know about spinal cord injury, and I know the Lord can work miracles.”

Now, almost five years of continued rehabilitation later, Okanlami is now a practicing physician and advocate for his belief that disability does not mean inability.

A new social media campaign, #DocsWithDisabilities, is working to raise awareness about doctors with disabilities.

Okanlami and his colleagues share a passion for and a focus on disability inclusion in medicine that is fueling their research agenda, and they are researching mechanisms for improving access to medicine for physician, learner, and patient populations.

“Increasing physician diversity has a positive impact on patient care and access for other marginalized groups,” and it may result in similar improvements for patients with disabilities, shared a colleague of Okanlami’s.

Okanlami hopes their advocacy work will continue to “disabuse disability” and create a health system that is inclusive and accessible to all.

For more on Okanlami and his incredible story and work, check out this article by the University of Michigan’s Health Blog.

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