Jan Lexell hedersdoktor 2017
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Hopefulness, difficulties and northern roots

Published: 10 November 2017

An inspiring retrospecitve of an interesting career. This is what the audience was offered when Jan Lexell held his Honorary Doctors' lecture at Luleå University of Technology.

– Because of my background, this feels like returning to me, it is a great honor to be appointed an Honorary Doctorate.

Jan Lexell, Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Lund University and Medical Director at the Skåne University Hospital, was born and raised in Luleå and was one of thekey driving forces in the development of the Department of Health. He has collaborated with researchers at Luleå University of Technology for many years, mainly in the field of rehabilitation. For the past two weeks he has been in Luleå to work with medical students at Sunderby Hospital and his lecture, En människa i rörelse, en rörelse i tiden, started just here.

– I've been pondering in the evenings about how you end up beeing where you are, what is pure chance, how much is random and what do you choose for yourself? Jan Lexell asks rhetorically.

– There is often a red thread, things that shape you and make you who you are.

Strong roots and important sports

He himself has identified two things that doubtlessly shaped him: the upbringing in Luleå and sports. In his youth, Jan Lexell successfully played table tennis, with a fifth place at the junior world championship as the best merit.

– I think that we people from Norrbotten always keep strong ties to our roots. And my involvement in sport was, in turn, an introduction to research.

Jan Lexell's research has included several different directions. At the end of the 1980s he challenged the fact that older people should not exercise their muscles  by proving the benefit of the opposite, a fact that today is considered completely natural. After that he ended up in Skåne and researched within neurology and rehabilitation medicine, a journey that led him into what he primarily works with today; how sports can be used as a rehabilitation in case of disabilities.

– Surprisingly everything I've done in my profession – despite coincidence and chance – still follows the red thread.

Parasport for healthier life

Jan Lexell has also been involved as a doctor and researcher in the field of parasports. He is Chairman of the Medical Committee of Parasport Sweden and Chief Medical Officer for the Swedish Paralympic Committee. In addition, Lexell is a standing member of the Medical Committee within the International Paralympic Committee.

– It has given me an incredible opportunity to combine sports, research and clinical activities. Organized sports for children, adolescents and adults with disabilities are of great importance. Research shows, among other things, that they get better self-esteem, feel greater friendship and get higher quality of life, says Jan Lexell and concludes:

– Today, we also know that physical activity is the best medicine. I probably didn't become a doctor for working with sick people but healthy people. Those I work with – people with disabilities – are not sick, they only have other preconditions.