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

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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.

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. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this:

‘He saw my hand. ‘I was born like this.’ He left and stopped talking to me. I knew then I didn’t want to hide it anymore.’: Woman shares limb difference acceptance journey, ‘I have the right to a normal life’

‘You’ll never be able to write or even wear a ring.’ I’d pull my sleeves over my hands. I wanted to be ‘normal.’: Limb difference advocate shares her journey, ‘Celebrate your differences’

‘We noticed some things about her hand and foot.’ Mom found doctor after doctor, even when they couldn’t do anything for me.’: Woman advocates for limb differences, ‘I tried until I got it right’

‘His arms and legs, are they there?’ I couldn’t look at his picture.’: Mom says son with limb differences is ‘exactly who he is supposed to be’

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