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Active Voice: Physically Challenged Athletes — Not "IF," But "HOW"

from By Lauren M. Simon, M.D., M.P.H., FACSM

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Dr. Lauren Simon is director of primary care sports medicine at Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA. In her family medicine and sports medicine practice, she focuses on promoting "optimal health" and active lifestyles for individuals of all ages and functional abilities. She also serves as team physician for the University of California-Riverside, University of Redlands and is medical director for the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Dr. Simon currently is a trustee on the ACSM's board of trustees.

This commentary presents Dr. Simon's views on the topic of an article she and one of her colleagues authored, which appears in the May/June 2014 issue of ACSM's official review journal in sports medicine, Current Sports Medicine Reports (CSMR).

A mother's fear and a child's wish, a story of how sports medicine professionals were able to create a bridge connecting them. "Johnny," an avid bicycle rider, was only nine years old when he was hit by a car. The injuries he sustained left him with an above-the-knee amputation. His mom feared she could not afford one of the costly handcycles that would enable him to ride again and socialize with his friends. Johnny just wanted to ride. Using the sports medicine team and a community outreach program for persons with disability, Johnny learned he did not actually need a handcycle, but instead received peer coaching from others with similar injuries and was fitted with a limb prosthesis that clipped into a standard upright bicycle pedal. Now, not only has he returned to riding with friends, but he competes in cycling events.

Physically challenged athletes may have a variety of impairments such as amputations from bone cancers, trauma as seen in war injuries and the Boston Marathon tragedy, and other medical conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairment or cerebral palsy.

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