Milwaukee VA Medical Center
Sports expo for disabled Veterans
The Milwaukee VA Spinal Cord Injury Center will host Badgerland Veterans Adaptive Sports Clinic – BVASiC for short – to discovery various types of adaptive equipment available for Veterans with neuromuscular conditions.
“I wanted the V to be silent so we could call it basic, like we’re starting from the basic up. It’s a lingo that works that stays in your head,” said Dr. Kenneth Lee, Spinal Cord Injury center director. “Milwaukee VA BVASiC is the go-to program for our community partners.”
BVASiC will demonstrate various types of adaptive equipment available, trial riding various types of equipment, observe and participate in wheelchair tennis demonstration as well as meet community groups that have adaptive sport programs available. Staff will learn what type of modifications and equipment is available for future veterans they work with. All of which is designed to assist Veterans in the recovery process in their neighborhood.
“I really think an adaptive sport makes a difference. It is the key to recovery” said Joyce Casey, recreation therapist. “It gives people back there identity. They can be looked at as an athlete; a golfer, a skier, a cycler.”
Programming is geared for Veterans with neuromuscular conditions such as spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson, low-vision and amputation. VA has recovery programs including; Summer Sports Clinic, Winter Sports Clinic, Wheelchair Games, Milwaukee Eagles Lacrosse, Adaptive Cycling Clinic and more.
Dr. Lee said Milwaukee VA’s BVASiC started with adaptive cycling. The Adaptive Cycling Clinic is available for Veteran’s with a functional need that requires an adaptive cycle to ride. With 25 cycles on hand Veterans can choose from, hand cycles or foot trikes, both are available in the upright or recumbent position.
“This provides a wide range of Vets to sample, trial and demo some of the bikes,” said Chelsea Kindler, recreation therapist. “People get to see what types of bikes are available and community groups they can meet with independently.”
Veterans will have the opportunity to ride various types of cycling equipment, review the latest modifications, participate in a wheelchair tennis demonstration as well as meet community groups with adaptive sports programs.
Hal Honeyman, a BVASIC community partner, shares how he transitioned his bike business, The Bike Rack, to an adaptive sports shop he named Creative Mobility.
“I’ve been in the bike business for over 40 years. My triplets were born premature; my son Jacob had a brain bleed and eventually cerebral palsy,” said Honeyman. “A mission to get Jacob on a bike led to doing adaptive sports all over the country.”
The fittings allow Veterans to trial adaptive cycling equipment and modifications for the best comfort to functionality ratio. Things like pedals, and hand switches can be customized by the vendors to suite individual needs.
“My first time (at BVASiC) was a couple of years ago. VA had all the bikes to check out. The one that I like, folds to save on space,” said Army Veteran, Terrence Green, a tetraplegic meaning partial loss of all four limbs and torso by way of paralysis. “I loved it. It was so much fun.”
After a motor vehicle accident in 2003 caused partial paralysis to Green’s limbs, he still managed an active lifestyle playing adaptive sports such as wheelchair football, lacrosse, skiing, rugby and tennis.
“You have to experience it and be committed to doing it. That is the only way you will learn to love it,” said Green. “It changes you. It makes you a better person.”
The BVASiC event held on Wednesday, Oct 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. is open to Veterans, VA staff consisting of physical and occupational therapists. Staff from the prosthetics department will volunteer to help fit Veterans and answer questions.
Click here for a downloadable flyer and schedule.
Participants must pre-register and complete medical clearance with SCI recreation therapists Joyce Casey and Chelsea Kindler at 414-384-2000 ext. 41256 or 41258.