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Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. Its goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

Disabled Sports USA Brings Great Opportunity to Burke's Adaptive Sports Program

August 1, 2019

From archery to yoga, the website showcases more than 50 sporting activities, with canoeing, mountain biking, rock climbing and triathlon along the alphabetic spectrum. 

Is this a super-sized athletic club?

No, this is Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), a network of nationwide organizations that expand the fitness, confidence and independence of people with disabilities. Burke Rehabilitation’s Adaptive Sports Program recently became DSUSA’s newest chapter.

According to Dr. Mooyeon Oh-Park, Burke’s Chief Medical Officer, this designation amplifies Burke’s potential to restore individuals’ function, value of life, and meaning within their families and community. These have long been Oh-Park’s  fundamental values, and they mesh seamlessly with Burke values of excellent care, in treating both patients and families.

“The sum total—of medical care, restoring function, adaptive sports, and caregiver engagement—is the meaning we create,” says Oh-Park, who is a physiatrist certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, sports medicine, and neuromuscular medicine.

Burke has long offered sports as part of the rehabilitation journey. Now, its Adaptive Sports Program linked with physiatric clinic and therapy, is becoming the centerpiece of Burke’s growing preeminence in the field. This model of care addresses the medical needs of individuals with disabilities before and during participation in adaptive sports. This level of attention allows them to enjoy the sports fully and reintegrate into the community.

Individuals may enter the adaptive sports program at any point in their recovery (inpatient or outpatient), whether they have been Burke patients or not.  A rehabilitation physician provides medical and musculoskeletal evaluations for community members who wish to participate. Whether a person has cardiovascular issues, or musculoskeletal problems, the program combines necessary medical treatment with therapy and sports activities.

As a DSUSA chapter, Burke will help expand opportunities for people with disabilities, by partnering with community-based sports and recreation providers, like CrossFit or City Center Dance.

Burke will train the providers’ staff in ‘disability etiquette,’ so new participants feel welcome and comfortable in the environment. Burke professionals can share techniques that enable a person who has lost an arm, for example, to do pushups, or a paraplegic to tap dance, using his or her hands.  

As Burke increases community awareness and knowledge, Burke staff members, including physicians, physical therapists and occupational therapists, can continue to learn and grow from DSUSA’s free training and seminars. They will have early access to the newest, innovative equipment and opportunities to evaluate other sports on the DSUSA spectrum.

Burke’s Adaptive Sports program already includes hand cycling, bowling, boxing, dancing workshops, pickle ball, climbing clinics, kayaking, water and snow skiing, and golf, but more are surely on the horizon. DSUSA chapters are eligible for grants to help with the purchase of costly adaptive equipment, and to supplement new sports programs.

Dr. Oh-Park is confident that Burke is on the path to becoming a national and world leader in comprehensive adaptive sports programs as well as for evidence-based research in this field. 

“When I arrived at Burke a year ago, I immediately recognized the potential for us to maximize our influence by becoming a DSUSA chapter,” she says. “Burke’s interdisciplinary approach for adaptive sports is unique, and the we would like to inform the medical community about our adaptive sports programs we offer for the individuals with disabilities.” 

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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