Through a symposium I attended today in the University of Limerick, I came across a number of initiatives at national and international level promoting what the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, in their publication of October 2016, called a “Prescription for a Wonder Drug“. They were referring to nothing more and nothing less than regular physical activity – at a minimum 30 minutes a day.


They say that this “wonder drug” reduces the risk of diseases and even death by a huge percentage. For example, 30% all cause mortality risk reduction, lower risk of depression, dementia, and falls… and the list goes on… for the general population. There is a separate list showing the improvement in health with regular physical activity for those with chronic conditions such as heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Now, if physical exercise is so important, if it can be a life saver for those who are healthy, if it can dramatically improve chronic conditions – I, admittedly being a layman and all, I would say for someone who cannot or can only hardly move themselves, for someone who cannot stand unaided, it (physical activity) is an absolute must.

If you don’t move, you die. It’s just a matter of time – if you’re ‘lucky’ it’s a matter of a few years, it could be sooner. Not affording the opportunity of regular physical exercise through trained physios to severely injured, just because they are severely injured, while being fully aware of the dramatic consequences is… what?

About a year ago, when I asked the specialists in Ireland’s National Rehabilitation Hospital, the national experts, about their recommendation for Pádraig’s ongoing therapy requirements in the community they told me that they could not make those recommendations.

Repeat – they told me that they could not make such a recommendation.

Well – the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland has a 19-page “Prescription for a Wonder Drug”: Physical Activity.

A Wonder Drug denied to Pádraig and many, many others who suffered a severe brain injury, only and exclusively because of the severity of their injury.

Here am I, the innocent lay person, thinking: the more severe the injury, the more ‘severe’ the rehabilitation programme and help required – wondering what it is I am missing here? Because –

I want this Wonder Drug for Pádraig and the other survivors of severe acquired brain injuries. Not only is he as entitled to its prescription as is anybody else, he really deserves it because of his incredible motivation and self efficacy – both established, crucial factors leading to a positive outcome and, thus, to a “return of investment” (for the accountants amongst us).