From 11-15 September WheelPower welcomed 72 spinal cord injured patients to its annual Inter Spinal Unit Games event. The Games provide an opportunity for recently injured adults to discover the life transforming benefits that come from taking part in sport. From the physical health to the emotional wellbeing, sport can be a very powerful tool during their rehabilitation.
The participants travelled to the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, Stoke Mandeville Stadium alongside their teammates and physios from Spinal Units across the United Kingdom. Eleven units took part in the event and that included teams from the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Buckinghamshire, the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow and Musgrave Park in Belfast.
Over the course of 3 days the participants were able to try 20 different sports, all whilst being supported by qualified coaches and enthusiastic volunteers. The sports included, athletics, tennis, sitting volleyball, bowls, rowing, golf, wheelchair rugby, and handcycling, to name a few. For many participants this event was the first time away from the hospital environment, or the first time away from the comforts of home, so everything was done to make the experience as stress free and enjoyable as possible.
Let’s hear from some of the participants …
” I had a diving accident only 11 weeks ago and have an incomplete break in my C4. I have been at the unit for rehab for 9 ish weeks and doing everything and bit more that the physios have asked me to do. I think they are happy with me and coming to the Games has been going really good. Fitness and exercise is massively important to me as my legs aren’t very strong so I’ve just been getting some strength back in, and doing all the sports this week has been ideal.” Joey, 20 from Newcastle
“I haven’t done a lot of exercise in the last 15 years but now I’m looking forward to getting back into sport and I’m like what’s next? Let’s go! I have loved trying all these sports and loved the way it’s been organised. You get to come in and try anything you feel like and they support you and explain how to do it. This event has really opened my eyes to what WheelPower does as a charity and I wouldn’t have experienced what I have experienced if I hadn’t come here this week.” Bianca, 48 from London.
“When I’m playing sport It doesn’t make me feel disabled. Because its competitive and everything you forget about the disability and just work on your what you’re good at. You are also playing with other people in the same boat so you don’t feel out our place. So for me it’s the best thing really to be playing sports. You get to meet new people, find out other things from people and just have fun.” Abu, 28 from London.
“I wasn’t sporty active at all before injury but I’m really starting to take more notice of sporting opportunities now, especially as I need to stay healthy and rely on my arms which are now doing the job of four limbs. I was really excited to come to the Games and it’s definitely lived past my expectations. I came second in badminton today, but Table tennis was my favourite despite losing in the second round! This event is just proving that with life it’s not always as expected, and anything can happen. I found some passions here and I’ve had a great time.” Kieran, 24 from Bristol
“Following a rock climbing accident my life has changed totally and drastically. Before coming I had some anxieties because I have 24/7 support at home and I knew that I wasn’t going to get that here. So I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t get all the help that I needed, but everything has been really supportive. So I would say that it’s an excellent opportunity, that nobody, if they are offered this opportunity should miss because there will never have a chance to try so many things again. So its a must do!” Sylvia, 58 from Glasgow
“Exercise and fitness is good because it takes your mind off it all and actually lets you have some fun. It gives you a reason to smile and feels great because you’re getting out, you’re socialising and you’re enjoying yourself. There’s many different sports, from curling to wheelchair rugby. It’s fantastic and its been great to meet other people who are in similar situation and it makes you feel like you’re not alone. Thank you.” Ryan, 28 from Derby