The Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association held a sled hockey clinic recently at the Ebel Ice Arena in Brookfield, Wis., for some of our spinal cord-injured patients.
Veterans from the Milwaukee VA Medical Center took to the ice March 6 to experience the challenge and excitement of participating in sled hockey – a high-speed, competitive and challenging sport that shows life isn’t over for those with spinal cord injuries. Instead, a world of opportunity is available.
Sled hockey is similar to regular hockey in terms of rules and the basic concept. Each person sits in a bucket seat on top of two blades and a runner placed under the feet.
Participants are equipped with two shortened hockey sticks with a blade on one end to shoot the puck and an ice pick on the other that helps them propel across the ice.
This sport allows anyone with or without a disability to participate in sled hockey regardless of their ability and requires great upper body strength, balance and puck handling skills.
“It was great fun! I think everyone should try it sometime!” said Fred Schutz, one of our SCI Veterans. “The people we played with were fantastic and GLASA was great and a lot of help!”
Fred is no stranger to adaptive sports and has competed regularly -- most recently at the Winter Sports Clinic where he earned the Kamikaze Award for his take-no-prisoners attitude as he tackled the slopes.
“We realize many people are scared or angry when they first get a spinal cord injury, but we want to show them there is so much more to live for, and they can still have a happy, active life,” said Joyce Casey, a recreation therapist at the Milwaukee VA.
“There is research that shows people with spinal cord injuries who participate in these activities live a longer, more fulfilling life,” she added. “Some people sulk when they are first injured and don’t want to participate, or they want to feel sorry for themselves. The real joy is seeing them getting into the new sports, succeeding and building friendships – whether it’s in basketball, rugby, sled hockey or any number of other activities. We are here for them and we will help them to succeed.”
Veteran patients run the gamut from those in their 20s to late 60s, she said. Some were injured in war, and some after they returned home.
If you are a spinal-cord injured Veteran, or you know someone who is, and they may be interested in sled hockey or any other adapted sports, check out GLASA at www.glasa.org or call 847- 283-0908.
For an appointment with a recreation therapist to find out if you’re qualified for care, call Joyce Casey at 414-384-2000, ext. 41256 or Sara Kucik at ext. 41245.