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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/18416

Title: ‘‘How to conquer a mountain with multiple sclerosis’’. How a climbing expedition to Machu Picchu affects the way people with multiple sclerosis experience their body and identity: a phenomenological analysis
Authors: Calsius, Joeri
Courtois, Imke
Feys, Peter
Van Asch, Paul
De Bie, Jozef
D'Hooghe, Marie
Issue Date: 2015
Citation: Disability and rehabilitation, 37 (26), pag. 2393-2399
Abstract: BACKGROUND: People with multiple sclerosis (MS) frequently complain of chronic or fluctuating fatigue, sometimes accompanied by pain. From a phenomenological point of view, both fatigue and pain are seen as aspects of suffering which adversely affect the physical, psychological, social and even existential dimensions of the individual life. OBJECTIVE: The present study discusses changes in identity and body awareness in people with MS who completed a five-day trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru in 2012, after having followed a physical training schedule for several months. METHOD AND DESIGN: All nine participants took part in a focus group organized after the trip. The Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to gain insight in their experiences and to refine pre-existing theoretical understanding of body awareness and identity. RESULTS: Our phenomenological analysis clarified how aspects of the participants’ identity- and body experience before, during and after the journey influenced major daily themes as ‘body’, ‘lived body’, ‘behavior’ and ‘relationship’ and how this contributed to a meaningful experience. When participants describe how they started looking at their own identity more consciously after being watched through the others’ eyes, this resulted in a joyful transcending of their bodily power and endurance. In general, our data suggest that the more extreme, positive lived body experiences during the expedition were necessary for optimizing daily ‘routine’ functioning. CONCLUSION: Participating to the Macchu-Pichu expedition appeared to have a deep and profound effect on body awareness and identity. Participants experienced their body once again as theirs, owning it and above all, allowing it to be a source of strength, joy and meaningfulness. While MS determined their lives prior to the journey, they now could look at MS as a part of what they are, without totally being absorbed in it. So being a patient with MS before, resulted in merely having MS after the climb.
Notes: Address for correspondence: Joeri Calsius, REVAL – Rehabilitation Research Center, BIOMED – Biomedical Research Center, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium. Tel: 0032 476 545128. E-mail: joeri.calsius@uhasselt.be
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/18416
DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2015.1027003
ISI #: 000369887200002
ISSN: 0963-8288
Category: A1
Type: Journal Contribution
Validation: ecoom, 2017
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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