Adaptive sports & recreation

Here is a compelling argument for, and my story with, adaptive sports & recreation.

After my accident in 1977, I was left with a brain injury and a short below knee amputation in my left leg, not to mention double vision, cuts, bruises, and stitches everywhere. Prior to my accident, I was active in sports and other physical activities. After my accident, everything took a backseat to my mobility challenges. First, it took me a couple of years to get fitted into a decent prosthesis, as short amputees are very challenging, even to the best prosthetist. But I was lucky to have met a WWII veteran, who sustained a similar amputation in the war. He started his own prosthetic facility in the 60’s, and help me with a game changing prosthesis. Now that I can finally walk well and without pain, I was able to confront my head and brain that was out of wack. The challenge of confronting my brain injury was a mystery to me, as I have never heard the term brain injury before, and so, I was just dealing with my own internal craziness, which I hid very well, and from everyone.

Years later, my life started to take on a positive turn as I began to see glimpses of slow return to my old self, thanks to all those physical activities that I began joining and participating in. But those physical activities were not the same as before my accident, nor at the same caliber. Instead, I joined sports and physical activities with people of similar limitations, and we made many adaptations to accommodate everyone. This was around 40 years ago, in the early 80’s, and that’s what we now call adaptive sports.

It is difficult for me to measure the level of benefit from adaptive sports and recreations, especially given the double benefits that I have experienced, to both my physical and brain challenge. But I can confirm that those adaptive sports and recreations have helped me dramatically. Few years later, I was able to go back to school, which was very hard to start, but I was able to complete the work. Then I worked, married, had children, and that’s when normalcy started to return. So, the message that I have been advocating since, is that adaptive sports and recreations will help, not only those with brain injury, but also anyone with physical or cognitive challenge.

In 1995, I began to pay forward by volunteering to help others, and joined a couple of friend who formed a central Ohio based organization in the early 90’s. This non-profit organization had a primary mission of helping people with all sorts of physical challenges, to stay healthy and happy, by focusing on their ABILITIES. This is done by empowering children, adults, and veterans through sports and therapeutic outdoor recreation.

Today, I can personally attest to the great benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle, including indoor and outdoor sports and other recreations. Physical activity can improve your cognitive health, helping you think, learn, problem-solve, and enjoy an emotional balance. It can improve memory and reduce anxiety or depression. For brain injury survivors, there are added benefits. Since brain injury accelerates the aging process of the brain, and we may face up to a three times greater risk of developing dementia than our peers, physical activity works because it helps restore and regain brain function and strength lost due to injury. But brain injury survivors may or may not be able to join standard activities, so adaptive sports and recreations are highly recommended. Over the years, I have seen the magic and impact on my life and the lives of others through adaptive sports and recreation.

Currently, we can not find any national organization that provide adaptive sports and recreation activities that are inclusive for brain injury. But we are working with many small organizations across the nation in order to create a central hub for brain injury survivors and their caregivers. This requires much time and resources, but we are working tirelessly to make this happen. So, stay tune to this webspace for near future developments.

Finally, while this webspace is all about brain injury survivors and their caregivers, my amputation and consequential physical challenge has always been a factor in my adaptive sports and recreation. After all, for over 40 years, I have been in action, participating in all sorts of activities, including various sports, fixing my cars, completing my own home projects, and even riding motorcycles again. But those physical challenge took years of adaptations in order to build the best prosthesis possible, which I am sharing it all in the following white paper, which I have completed recently.

Please use this link to review my white paper “BK-Short Digest” – with a 45-year experience-based summary on how to create the best prosthesis for those with short below-knee amputation.