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October 12, 1984

The Cripple Liberation Front Marching Band Blues

Author Affiliations

VA Outpatient Clinic Boston

JAMA. 1984;252(14):1935. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350140071039

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Lorenzo Wilson Milam has written a graphic but heartrending description of his travels through the hills and valleys of medical care and rehabilitation after contracting polio in 1952.

We are with the author as he is admitted to a chronic disease hospital, where he endures the agony of twice-daily electric muscle stimulation and exercises administered by Miss Bland, a physical therapist, and the shredding of his dignity by ward nurse Stumpf and her colleagues.

He would have been left to the tender mercies of these medical care practitioners and their leader, Dr Jackyl, who views each patient as an untapped source of revenue to be surgically exploited, were it not for the intervention of his mother, who arranges for him to be transferred to Warm Springs Medical Center.

At Warm Springs, Milam undergoes an uplifting of his physical and mental status. He describes this as "People like me, who have