Our nation’s veterans have proven their bravery, commitment, and strength through their service to our country, so it should come as no surprise that veterans continue to display these same qualities when they face life-changing spinal cord injuries.
Veterans everywhere are refusing to let their injuries negatively impact their spirit and determination, and they are an inspiration to anyone who faces challenges and disabilities of all types.
Veterans Find Healing in Adaptive Sports
Fifty years ago, the best-case scenario for someone with a spinal cord injury was to live a quiet life with limited mobility. This is far from the case today. Individuals with spinal cord injury can return to a life that looks much the same as it did pre-injury, as is evidenced by our veteran community. Many of these veterans are finding strength and healing through adaptive sports.
Adaptive sports got its start after World War II with wheelchair basketball, but today it encompasses a wide range of sports including rugby, skiing, scuba diving, rock climbing, hockey, bicycling, and golf, to name just a few. As technology continues to develop more and more, sports are available to people with spinal cord injury, and the wide range of available adaptive sports is allowing people with practically any interest to get involved and be active and engaged.
Adaptive sports can be found everywhere and encompass a variety of options: competitive, non-competitive, indoor, outdoor, teams, and individuals.
Leading the way in adaptive sports for our nation’s veterans is a group called Veterans Adaptive Sports. Based in Florida, this group is helping disabled veterans overcome challenges, and providing community and support for our nation’s heroes.
Benefits of Adaptive Sports
Adaptive sports provide many health and psychological benefits, and it isn’t just for veterans! Anyone with spinal cord injury or illness can benefit from adaptive sports, and regular exercise has been shown to aid substantially with rehabilitation and recovery.
Helps the Body and the Mind
Everyone is more inclined to exercise when it’s fun, and adaptive sports are both fun and good for the body. Beyond the physical health benefits, quality exercise is good for the mind as well; it is known to help conditions like depression and anxiety, increase confidence, and improve self-esteem.
Veterans, who are accustomed to the comradery of the military, are finding community and friendship through adaptive sports. Community provides newfound friendships, a peer-support system, and increases a sense of belonging and empowerment.
Increases Employment Rates
Studies suggest that those who play adaptive sports have higher rates of employment 1, which increases independence, sense of purpose, and is good for the economy as well!
Improves Quality of Life
A recent study by researchers Ramon B. Zabriskie, Neil R. Lundberg, and Diane G. Groff examined whether participation in adaptive sports influenced participants’ overall quality of life, including family and social life and athletic identity, and the results were clear: an overwhelmingly high number of those who participated in adaptive sports reported ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in key indicators of quality of life. 2
Adaptive Sports Resources
If you’re a veteran, Veterans Adaptive Sports is a great resource for you. But even if you’re not, there are plenty of organizations available to help you get started in the world of adaptive sports. These include:
- National Sports Center for the Disabled
- Disabled Sports USA
- American Association of Adapted Sports Programs
Veterans Set an Important Example
For anyone who faces challenges, both veterans and non-veterans alike, overcoming obstacles and broadening horizons is an empowering process. Participating in adaptive sports builds strength both physically and mentally and is a great way to meet new people! Today’s many adaptive sports options makes finding and learning a sport easier than ever. We can all learn from the example set by veterans, overcome our perceived limitations, and live life to the fullest.
The Thrive Community by Enemeez®
The Thrive Community Facebook Group is a private space for any person with a disability, as well as caregivers and healthcare providers that touch their lives. Our purpose is to provide a safe, educational space for group members to ask every question, connect with their peers, and empower each other through communication and connection. Our conversations are led by incredible individuals who themselves are living and thriving.