GRAND BLANC — Any time an individual suffers a debilitating injury, their first reaction is denial, then cognitive/ emotional hurdles set in that often lead them to think that the activities they had enjoyed inside and outside are no longer an option.
Adaptive equipment, training and rehabilitation can put them back on the ski slopes, onto sled hockey teams and back out hunting and fishing. Golf, tennis, kayaking, track and field, swimming, biking, hiking and running are all still very much a possibility thanks to the special equipment that makes it possible to become active again.
“Integration is huge in getting them to realize that they can still take part,” said Sophia Bongo of STARrehab. “There is a lot of cognitive and emotional recovery that happens along with the physical. This weekend alone, we had so many different events going on with the Sled Dogs ice hockey, I myself was refereeing the quad rugby in Chicago, and we also had weightlifting, powerlifting, lacrosse, running, and all kinds of sports events taking place.”
Bongo explained that throughout the area—and state—disabled athletes are actively taking part thanks to the programs available.
“We have coaches and refs through the Paralympics and there are really no limits as to what they can do indoor to outdoor and winter to summer,” Bongo said. “When people first get hurt, they don’t want to accept that the injury may be permanent. Then we can start to address the options available to them once they recover emotionally.”
Several examples are an avid hunter who used his scholarship monies to go boar hunting. Bongo noted that they also have several staffers on multiple boards including William Bickers on the board for Michigan Sports Unlimited, as a spinal cord injured individual. Others are involved with the Michigan Adaptive Sports Coalition and Thunder in the Valley, a well-renowned athletic competition. Tim Davis is a double amputee veteran, who is now refereeing for US Paralympics.
“It’s not just the sports, but the leadership roles that are also available,” Bongo said. “A lot of people don’t realize that after the emotional hurdle and body image is concurred, you have to overcome the physical and financial obstacles.”
“For many, finances are limited, but if finances is the issue, we take that out of the equation,” added Bongo. “Sharina Jones, Ms. Wheelchair Michigan, is a power lifter. Hunting, refereeing, pageants, we support all opportunities.”
Another adaptive athlete grabbing the bull by the horns is Adam Rose, soon-tobe 18, who is the youngest competitive hand cyclist and now competing for a spot on the United States Olympic team.
The scholarship monies, $3,600 given to each client, makes a big difference in helping get them back into the mainstream. Special golf and hunting chairs, golf guns, modified fishing, compound bow and firearms equipment, along with sporty wheelchairs, adaptive running prosthetics and more are just a fraction of the gamut available that is putting individuals back in the game of life.
To learn more about adaptive sports equipment and therapy contact STARrehab at www.STARrehab.info or 810-344-9810.