Teresa (“Tessa”) Elizabeth Ann Addenbrooke

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 23 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1125
  1. Paul Snell

    Former general practitioner who understood the difficulties of disabled people from experience and championed their rights

    Tuberculosis of the hip in 1938 was not a good start for a 2 year old. Tessa Addenbrooke spent seven of her first 11 years in hospital, often immobilised on a frame. Parental visits were discouraged at that time—as upsetting to the child—and the hospital regime, while not deliberately cruel, was horrifying to a modern understanding of a child's needs and feelings.

    The range of actions hampered by a crumbled (later fixed) hip, from walking to washing, is not easily appreciated by those who are able bodied—even doctors who tell the patient to “sit up.” Neither is the longer term effect of this imbalance on the whole skeleton. To this physical disability were added the effects of Tessa's deprived, almost absent, childhood: she battled throughout her life against depression, anxiety, and anger. Her most remarkable achievement in medicine was to use her disabilities to help others.

    Teresa Elizabeth Ann Addenbrooke was the eldest child of an Anglican priest. Her mother taught French while bringing up their six …

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