By: Oz Mondejar , Leslie Portney

Adaptive sports class at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Instructor and MGH Institute of Health Professions alumna Ali Stoll teaches an adaptive sports class at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Experiencing a disabling injury or illness can strike a significant blow to a person’s self-confidence, among many other challenges. Participating in adaptive sports often provides a much-needed confidence boost, and a range of activities help make this a reality, including wheelchair tennis, hand cycling, adaptive rowing or windsurfing.

The benefits are well documented. A study by Disability Sports USA found that people with disabilities who participate in adaptive sports are twice as likely to be employed as those who do not participate, and also experience a better quality of life and better health.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network has operated an adaptive sports program since 2001, but offering instruction at physical therapy graduate programs is rare. Given the successful treatment outcomes this approach can yield, the hospital and MGH Institute of Health Professions (IHP), Partners’ only degree-granting affiliate, decided to pilot a six-week adaptive sports class for its entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students. One of the first of its kind offered in a DPT program, the class filled up within minutes.

With the graduate school’s campus located just a few blocks from Spaulding’s new home in the Charlestown Navy Yard, it seemed natural to team up. The class of 20 students spent time at Spaulding’s Dr. Charles H. Weingarten Adaptive Sports & Recreation program, where they got first-hand experience with the hospital’s adaptive sports facilities, trying out modified canoes and more. The students’ instructor, a current Spaulding physical therapist, graduated from the IHP in 2011.

Spaulding’s adaptive sports program has helped thousands of people who have suffered disabling injuries or illnesses take part in a wide range of sports and activities, so we’re thrilled that our two Partners affiliates are working together to give the next generation of physical therapists a glimpse into this exciting approach to treatment.

Because of the initial class’s success, the IHP expects to expand the offering to its students in occupational therapy and speech-language pathology programs, and collaborate with Spaulding to create new clinical research opportunities.

Read more about Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital on Connect with Partners.

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