The hidden burden of war injuries and other stories


Our spots from the week in disability, on blogs and social media.

BBC Radio 4's Today programme finished its annual guest editor season with double Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey at the helm. One piece she commissioned was from war photographer Giles Duley who, while in Afghanistan in 2011, stepped on an explosive device which led to him losing both legs and one arm.

In his report, Duley wonders whether the increased media coverage of injured servicemen really tells the whole picture. Ex-serviceman Tony Harris talks about injuries normally hidden beneath clothing: "Without wanting to really upset people, if you lose your genitals, you can't have kids... that is a really big mental burden that cannot be shown visually - so people don't know."

Duley agrees: "I had a colostomy after my injury and that was worse than everything else for me in terms of the intimacy with my partner... in just my day-to-day nervousness when I was out if it started leaking." He says that a colostomy affected him more than losing both his legs and that the large majority who have lost both legs have similar problems but go unseen. He says it has a "big psychological impact".

It's two years since the summer Paralympics in London which must mean we're due for its colder cousin. The Winter Paralympics start in Sochi in Russia this March and will be covered by BBC Radio 5 live. But the BBC disability sport site reminds us there are many other events this year and has profiled five new para-athletes we should look out for.

2014 includes World Championships in track cycling, wheelchair basketball and para-dressage, as well as some European Championships and para-sport events in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Looking through the athlete profiles, I'm left wanting to know more about Scott McCowan from Ayrshire. He's a boccia player who can't throw the ball himself; he uses a ramp and an assistant, usually his father, who throws the ball using only instruction in this game of boules-like precision.

Though this way of playing is very intriguing, what caught my attention is his answer to the question: "If you could invite three people to dinner, who would it be?" He says: "Michael Johnson, David Attenborough and Don Henley." Three quite different people and an interesting choice for a 22-year-old to make (I assume he's referring to Johnson the Olympic sprinter and not the former Manchester City player).

Evidence that everyone is still in holiday mode comes courtesy of Twitter where its denizens are tweeting about that good old beginning-of-year chestnut - resolutions.

The charity Young Minds tweets: "What are your new year resolutions? Is eating better on there?" It directs you to a page which reminds you that food affects your mood - which, conveniently, also rhymes. Along with other nuggets of information on the importance of good nutrition, the page tells you: "Glucose from the carbohydrate-containing foods we eat provides the brain's main source of fuel. Without this fuel, we can't think clearly."

The National Autistic Society asks its followers what resolutions they have made. Poignantly @PAtrekkie responds: "To try and not be mad at my son for those things he can't help, and encourage the things he is able to resolve on his own."

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