November 12, 2019

Family Medicine's Dr. Okanlami thrives on ABC's GMA 'Thriver Thursday'

Good Morning America's Robin Roberts features the work of the department's MDisability team and the recovery of Dr. Okanlami, drawing enormous recognition online

Robin Roberts Thriver Thursday
Robin Roberts hosts 'Thriver Thursday,' a regular online segment from ABC's 'Good Morning America.'

A popular feature of ABC's 'Good Morning America' program is Robin Roberts' online segment, 'Thriver Thursday,' which spotlights individuals facing and overcoming various types of personal challenges.

The story of Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of family medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation; director of adaptive sports; and director for medical student programs with Michigan Medicine’s Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, premiered on Oct. 31 and quickly became the most-viewed Thriver Thursday segment. 

In its first week online, it was viewed over 400,000 times -- far more views than any other feature in the program's two-season run. In the first week, it also drew several thousand reactions and shares on Facebook.

"The goal is to create equal access as well as to promote physical and emotional health and well-being," Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, M.D., M.S.

Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, M.S., M.S.
Oluwaferanmi O. Okanlami, M.D., M.S. and the work of Michigan Medicine was featured in a 'Thriver Thursday' Facebook segment associated with ABC's 'Good Morning America.'

The segment featured the story of Okanlami's rehabilitation from a 2013 spinal cord injury, but he stressed the real story is about the Department of Family Medicine and its MDisability program, accessibility and adaptive sports, along with other related issues.

MDisability aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. It is a collaborative program focused on improving the inclusion of people with disabilities in healthcare research, education, practice and community engagement.

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With seeing such a huge online response to the story, the desire to learn more about accessibility appears to be great.

"The goal is to create equal access as well as to promote physical and emotional health and well-being," he said. "This is one way of accomplishing that. And we can pass this information on to patients, giving them information they did not know existed before."

Additionally, Okanlami added, stories like this can help promote "another set of skills that can be learned by physicians, which can have a positive effect for many people."

The support on social media was swift and strong.

A viewer from Pennsylvania wrote on the program's Facebook page: "Thanks for...shining a spotlight on individuals with disabilities."

The Thriver Thursday segment takes place weekly on Facebook.