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Paralympian Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett Banned After Her Disability Ruled Pschological

September 10, 2015

One of Britain’s best hopes of a medal at the Brazil Paralympics has been told she can no longer compete after being told her disability is “psychological” rather than physical.

Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett, 23, who has been in a wheelchair for four years since she slipped in a shower in 2011, won gold at the Canoe Sprint World Cup in the summer.

But tests by doctors have shown she has “conversion disorder”, which causes people to suffer from symptoms such as paralysis without any identifiable physical cause.

Ms Wilkinson-Burnett says she has been left “heartbroken” after being told by British Canoeing she no longer qualified under International Canoe Federation rules.

She found out shortly before she was due to compete in the Paracanoeing World Championships and said on her blog: “I should have been competing at the world championships, but following my declassification, this is clearly no longer happening.

“I thought that I’d be able to accept what has happened and watch my friends compete, but this has been one of the most heart-breaking times of my entire sporting career.”

Ms Wilkinson-Burnett, from Leicestershire, was an England under-21s hockey player before her accident at a summer school in the US in 2011. She says she has no feeling from the chest down. She began canoeing in September 2013 and was a medal prospect in Rio but was diagnosed with conversion disorder after extensive investigations at hospitals in Nottingham, Leicester and the US. Medics said the tests “strongly suggest” there is no underlying neurological abnormality to explain the weakness and numbness in her legs.

A spokeswoman for British Canoeing said: “Based on all the information we now have, we can confirm that unfortunately Charlotte’s disability would not be classifiable under the current paracanoe eligibility criteria set by the International Canoe Federation.”

She added: “We are extremely surprised and disappointed with this turn of events, which is a huge blow to Charlotte, who is a very talented and committed athlete, but it is vital that the integrity of the classification process is upheld to ensure it provides a level playing field for all athletes to participate.”

Dr Timothy Nicholson, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London said: “Anyone who understands the disorder will have mixed feelings about somebody being banned from competing.”

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2015 1:08 am

    Indeed it was and now that Paralympian Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett Banned After Her Disability Ruled Pschological IDS will now state that all those in wheelchairs have got nothing wrong with them it’s all in the mind so will lose their benefits they all have “conversion disorder” so get to work

    If he goes, down this route and I believe he will there will be nothing to stop him killing off this group of disabled people including myself I may add

    • September 10, 2015 8:55 am

      That’s exactly what I fear Nick. I’m due to go through all the neuro tests again soon, and my experience last time was horrific, with the pain specialist even saying that I was some kind of fantasist because I said that I held a degree and was working professionally; she also said that the muscle spasms were ‘panic attacks’, and said that I didn’t have one condition that a consultant diagnosed and had treated me for.

      I now have angina, which I’d like to see them say is ‘all in the mind’; I think the stress of not being believed and left to suffer for so long led to such a problem. I should have had a heart scan 4 weeks ago, so this suggestion that I’m imagining things is seriously prejudicing my physical treatment.

      Luckily, I now have a supportive G.P., and even she can’t understand why for example, I was sent a psychology appointment when both knee cartilages had dislocated.

      The malignant influence of psychology and psychiatry on our NHS is disgusting. It’s a cop out and leaves people in unimaginable physical suffering for years on end. Freud was wrong, simple as. It’s been a money making racket for too long.

      I feel so sorry for Charlotte.

  2. david permalink
    September 10, 2015 2:32 am

    The important words here are ‘ without any identifiable physical cause’ . Conversion disorder is one of an umbrella group of symptom disorders known as FND. They are classed together as even the specialists admit they don’t even really know what causes the problem, and there are many disparate groups with various symptoms. This class of disorders once included MS, ME, Epilepsy, MG. Those that tend to be classified as closer to conversion disorder seem to be those where a psychological trigger may be linked to either the onset of symptoms or of relapses.
    There are almost no treatments (CBT has been found to help 10-15%) and even less research. Meanwhile the symptoms are real. The DWP have kept in in their A-Z of medical conditions (a guide for DLA assessors (as of the last update earlier this year). The disabling effect on this lady is exactly as if she had broken her back. Unfortunately even tough this ‘group’ of disorders make up over 30% of people seen in neurology clinic, the current thinking is once diagnosed and had initial ‘treatment’ that no further specialist intervention/investigation needs to be pursued. I can only hope someone points her in the direction of FNDhope online and FB

  3. Bookworm permalink
    September 10, 2015 8:56 am

    It has taken 13 years for a consultant to tell me that I have nerve damage caused by a back injury. Medical science is constantly evolving, todays unexplained illness/injury is tomorrows genuine complaint.

  4. September 10, 2015 11:12 am

    I’m not in the slightest bit surprised seeing as how the only people in the UK who IDS thinks are disabled are those who suffer from pain and have disabilities that you can see. anyone with an invisible condition is deemed fully fit and should be working.

  5. September 11, 2015 6:49 pm

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions and commented:
    That’s what I had. But because it was a nervous breakdown in physical form.

    But doctors are not nice, they kept telling me it was all in my head, which made me more determined to argue.

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