Wounded Warriors get competitive during adaptive sports
August 1, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. " While the human body is susceptible to injuries, the human spirit can be an impenetrable force that allows wounded Soldiers the strength to strive on after sustaining injuries.
Wounded warriors from the Warrior Transition Battalion participated in adaptive sports, adding competitiveness to their physical therapy at Shoreline Park July 29.
Soldiers demonstrated their athletic prowess during sitting volleyball, disc golf, and wheelchair basketball, sports that have been adapted so everyone can play despite physical abilities.
“Adaptive sports give everyone an opportunity to rekindle some of that athleticism,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Morley, a Yelm, Wash. native, and Alpha Company squad leader, WTB.
Morley, 6-foot, 9-inches tall, grew up playing basketball, but after injuring his ankle in Iraq, he has brought his competitive spirit to sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
“Adaptive sports allow our Soldiers who have injuries of some sort, whether it’s mental or physical, to engage in physical activity,” said Lt. Col. Jason R. Wing, WTB Commander. “It’s an element of the healing process.”
During the Soldier’s rehabilitation and transition process, adaptive sports are recognized as physical therapy appointments, said Kim Drown, WTB recreation therapist.
“It’s another option to physical therapy,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Arlindo Almeida, WTB CSM. “It’s physical therapy with a competitive nature.”
Sgt. Lester Perez, a Miami native, Charlie Company, WTB, grew up playing basketball and let his competitive nature shine during wheelchair basketball.
“Adaptive sports is pretty fun; I used it as a stepping stone to get better,” said Perez.
When Perez arrived at the battalion, he couldn’t walk due to having multiple surgeries on his legs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Wheelchair basketball has helped him defeat the pain and recover faster, he said.
“It gets you around other injured Soldiers,” he said. “You can relate, talk about what happened, and it just gets you out there actually doing something.”
To facilitate Soldiers getting out of the barracks and having fun with their physical therapy, Metro Parks, Tacoma’s Adaptive Recreation Program, has worked directly with the WTB. They provide community coaches and equipment for rowing, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, swimming, and track and field, said Parker Ayers, Metro Park’s adaptive recreation specialist.
Bike riding has also proved a success in the adaptive sports program, as eight Soldiers successfully cycled a total of 218 miles from Seattle to Portland in 36 hours, said Staff. Sgt. Mario Bilbrew, Charlie Company Cadre, WTB.
“There is a life after being injured,” said Almeida. “Being able to adapt to that injury and live a normal life, that’s very important.”
For the Soldiers of the WTB, adaptive sports have proven a vital asset in their rehabilitation and transition process.