Friday, May 30, 2008

"30 Days" gives wheelchair use a spin

Ray Crockett

Retired NFL football player Ray Crockett will spend 30 days in a wheelchair for the FX TV network show, "30 Days," on June 10. I had real misgivings about this episode when I first heard about it but have since found out that a friend who is a wheelchair user was a consultant for this episode, and was able to review a final edit. He says they did a good job.

The premise of the Morgan Spurlock show (filmmaker of "Supersize Me") is that he or someone else spends 30 days living someone else's life as closely as possible. One of my favorite episodes was when he and his girlfriend tried to live 30 days on minimum-wage jobs. It really drove home what the working poor must deal with.

Ray Crockett says it was an incident that occurred during his pro football years that made him want to participate in the June 10 episode.

In 1991, he was playing for the Detroit Lions when his teammate and friend, Mike Utley, was part of a play that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

FX says "it is this incident that made Ray want to participate in 30 Days."

"For 30 Days, Ray will live in a wheelchair and will rely on his mental discipline to keep his legs immobile," according to the FX Web site. "His home and his car will be retrofitted to accommodate his needs. Coaching duties for his son's football team will continue and Ray will join the Texas Stampede, the wheelchair rugby team featuring players made famous in the documentary film 'Murderball.' He will attend a weekly support group for paraplegics at the Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation and meet with a physical therapist to monitor any potential side effects."

During his wheelchair use, Crockett will be monitored by a doctor to track any muscle loss, blood clots, pressure sores or other side effects that could happen while he is a wheelchair user.

Not having seen the episode, I can't comment on it yet, but I can give advice to the FX Web site content producer -- drop the term "wheelchair-bound" from the description of the episode, please.

Finally, I have to give some praise to Time magazine for using proper terms when describing this episode: "Whereas they inflame differences, 30 Days gets people to live the life of someone else, from a wheelchair user to an animal-rights activist."