A Remarkable Journey: Practicing Medicine with Cerebral Palsy


Dr. Darrell Pone photo for Newsletter

As told by,  Darrell W. Pone, MD


I graduated from Meharry Medical College in 1981 and did a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation until 2005. I then worked with Inpatient, Outpatient and Trained Residents.

While practicing medicine I had the following major problems: Some difficulty with standing and walking, manual dexterity, making dress code and dysarthria.  During my Internship I was asked if I was a physician but this question diminished as  I got older.

I had to stand for hours on rounds which made my legs hurt. Sometimes we walked on steps to other floors.   Also, it was hard to write with spastic hands, button a dress shirt and start intravenous lines but I could draw blood.

People frequently insulted my handwriting then they would suddenly call me an inspiration since I was a doctor with cerebral palsy.  I did not like the insults about my handwriting. No disabled person should be treated that way. It was sometimes difficult to speak clearly in the hospital, especially when I was tired. On call duties were every 4th night that began at midnight and lasted until 8 AM. I was able to perform with an ophthalmoscope (for eye examinations), and an otoscope (for ear examinations). My only problem with Grand Rounds was standing for long times during speeches.

While working at a New York City hospital I relied on interpreters. This was sometimes a problem but  eventually we communicated with physical gestures and diagrams on a piece of paper.

My final three years in practice, I used the laptop with a template to record the patient history, physical examination, laboratory tests ordered, and treatment plans.   Computers helped retrieve data.  When the Health Maintence Organizations (HMO’s) came into effect, we had to see more patients in less time.  I lacked the stamina so I retired and transitioned into an Inspirational Speaker.

Check out the links below to learn more about Dr. Darrell Pone and how his journey with cerebral palsy served as an inspiration and encouragement for many colleagues, and patients.

You Tube Video #1 DR Darrell Pone

Dr Darrell Pone born w cerebral palsy draws on struggles to help others

Dr Darrell Pone You Tube video #2



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