Milwaukee VA Medical Center
Recreation Therapy Spinal Cord Injury Adaptive Sports
Q: What does recreation therapy at the Spinal Cord Injury Center consist of?
A: We have a wide variety of activities;
A: Participation is open to all Veterans with qualifying disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputation, visual impairments, traumatic brain injuries, head injuries and certain neurological problems, etc. Veteran participants must be enrolled at the Milwaukee VA and SCI inpatients have priority.
Q: How can I find out about specific events or sign up?
A: Contact SCI Recreation Therapy at 414-384-2000, ext. 41256 or 41258, or the Wisconsin PVA at 414-328-8910.
Q: Do you have organized team sports?
A: No, only for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.
Q: How can I sign up for the wheelchair lacrosse team?
A: Contact Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association, or call 414-430-0543.
Q: Can you help me participate in other adaptive sports in the community?
A: With the Veterans permission we can connect them with a wide range of community partners contacts that facilitate programs throughout southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
Q: Can I borrow adaptive equipment from VA?
A: Veterans may check out recreation therapy equipment for their personal use for a short time, depending on the item. If a Veteran is not already a part of the outpatient recreation therapy program, their provider must place a consult to Outpatient Recreation Therapy for use and trial of adaptive equipment. If a Veteran is medically appropriate for adaptive equipment, such as sport wheelchairs or adaptive cycles, VA may provide this equipment at no cost. To find out how to qualify, please speak with your recreation therapist.
Q: How do you make decisions based on who receives equipment?
A: All participants must be medically cleared. It is based on need, qualification, safety and wellbeing of our Veterans.
Q: What type of training will you give me on the equipment?
A: We offer beginner, entry-level training and refere Veterans to another program once they gain more experience and need a challenge.
Q: Why should I participate in these activities?
A: To Improve your health and avoid secondary conditions.
Q: I don’t really like basketball and sports like that. What other adaptive programs do you offer, and where can I find more information?
A: You can check out the BVASIC Facebook page to see a variety of programs.
Q: How often are local recreation therapy events offered through SCI and how often may I participate?
A: Many of our programs are seasonal and offered several times per month during the season; for example, we typically offer curling October through March and cycling May through October.
Q: What national programs are available through SCI recreation therapy?
A: Athletes unable to play ambulatory sports can participate in VA’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games. It is hosted by a different city each year. For more information, go to: www.wheelchairgames.org/.
The National Veteran Summer Sports Clinic offers adventure sports and recreational activities for those who were recently injured (you may only attend twice within five years of injury). Complementing the therapy provided in daily rehabilitation programs, the Clinic shares a glimpse of the many exciting recreational opportunities awaiting those Veterans who accept the challenge. For more information, click here.
The National Veterans Winter Sports Clinic is a week-long ski and snow sports clinic hosted each year in Colorado. Participation is open to male and female Veterans with qualifying disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputation, visual impairments, traumatic brain injuries, head injuries and certain neurological problems, among other disabilities. Veterans who currently have inpatient or outpatient status at a VA Medical facility have priority. All disabilities are subject to review by the Winter Sports Clinic medical director and program director. For more information, click here.
Training Exposure Experience (TEE Tournament) provides legally blind and eligible disabled Veterans an opportunity to develop new skills and strengthen their self-esteem through adaptive golf and bowling events. Each year, the TEE Tournament uses a therapeutic format to promote rehabilitation, fellowship and camaraderie among participants. For more information, click here.
The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival offers an opportunity for veterans involved in Creative Arts Therapy or who engage in Creativity and the Arts for health, wellness and self-expression to showcase their talent and work. Involvement in the Local VA Festival is the first step and available to all veterans enrolled in VA care during the Winter Months. Select numbers of veterans are invited to the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, hosted in a different city by a different VA Medical Center each Fall. The Divisions within the Creative Arts include: Visual Art, Music, Dance, Drama and Creative Writing. For additional information, click here.
VA’s Golden Age Games is the premier senior adaptive rehabilitation program in the United States, and the only national multi-event sports and recreational seniors’ competition program designed to improve the quality of life for all older Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The VA Challenges and encourages senior Veterans to be proactive in embracing a healthier lifestyle.
The games are open to Veterans, ages 55 or older, who receive health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information, click here.
Q: What are the costs to attend these events?
A: Most of our local recreation therapy programs are free to Veterans. A few require a fee or a deposit. National programs cost varies depending on the program. Visit each program’s website for further information.
Q: I would like to volunteer and help with this program. What opportunities are available?
A: We’re always looking for dedicated volunteers who want to give back to our Veterans, whether it’s an hour a month or on a weekly basis. We’re currently looking for volunteers to assist with:
To volunteer or for more information, call Voluntary Services at 414-384-2000, ext. 41803.
Q: I am a student enrolled in an accredited recreation therapy school program. I would like to do my recreation therapy internship at VA. How do I get started?
A: If you are interested in interning in Spinal Cord Injury, please call 414-384-2000, ext. 41256 or 41258.
Meet the SCI Recreation Therapy Team
Joyce Casey has been a recreation therapist for 30 years with experience in mental health, oncology and rehabilitation. She is currently a recreation therapist on the Spinal Cord Injury unit at the Milwaukee VA. She has had this role for the past 15 years and during this time she has cultivated a passion for providing Veterans with the best possible recreational pursuit that enhances their life with meaning and purpose. She has created programming for 20 seasonal adaptive sports including cycling, golf, kayaking, downhill skiing, curling and more. Her personal favorites are water skiing and wheelchair tennis. Joyce has also developed numerous community partnerships, student internships, and coaching teams at the national veterans’ programs. The ability to connect her Veterans to the community is an essential element to her job that she loves and is made possible by her positive work environment. Joyce enjoys worldwide travels with her husband and spending time with her three grown children. She plays competitive tennis with USTA leagues and an active member of the USTA Midwest wheelchair tennis program.
Erinn Kulba has been a recreation therapist with the Spinal Cord Injury team at the Milwaukee VA since 2019. She graduated with her master's in therapeutic recreation from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and has previous clinical experience in post-acute traumatic brain injury care, acute neuro rehabilitation and memory care. In addition to being a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, Erinn is a certified adaptive sports and recreation specialist and an Adult-Learn-To-Swim certified instructor. Erinn currently works with Veterans in the SCI Center to provide highly motivating, goal-oriented therapeutic interventions that are personalized to meet each Veteran’s recreation and leisure needs. It is Erinn’s goal to provide care that will improve a Veteran’s quality of life, increase functional independence within the community and assist with adjustment to a spinal cord injury.
Francheska Wallace is a proud Certified Recreational Therapist. Francheska graduated from the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin, where she earned her degree in occupational studies and therapeutic recreation. She has been a certified recreational therapist for four years. She is new to the Milwaukee VA's Spinal Cord Injury Unit. Francheska is honored to work for the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, as she is extremely appreciative of all Veterans. Francheska is proud to assist individuals become more independent while focusing on their quality of life.
- SCI, bldg 144
- 414-384-2000 Ext. 41256
Hours of Operation
- 7:30 - 4 p.m.