Last week on a flight home to snowy New Hampshire, I was thinking about the 22nd Winter Olympic Games that had just started in Sochi, Russia.  As I flipped through a sports magazine, I was stunned by an advertisement that showed a picture of Josh Dueck, a T-11 complete paraplegic athlete, mid-air performing a sit-ski back flip.  While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is even better.

Next month, the Winter Paralympic Games will begin in Sochi and include men’s and women’s events such as downhill skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling.  See the schedule here.

One of the athletes to watch next month is Taylor Chace of Hampton, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire who was named by the United States Olympic Committee as the 2010 Paralympic SportsMan of the Year.

Tyler Walker of Franconia, also a UNH graduate, will compete in the Paralympic downhill event.

New Hampshire happens to have many organizations that are involved with disabled sports, given the four-season climate and focus on outdoor activities that are part of the Granite State.  Some of these organizations include New England Disabled Sports, AbilityPLUS, Northeast Passage, Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country and the New England Handicapped Sports Association.

The Governor’s Commission on Disability, which advises the governor, state agencies and the N.H. Legislature on the needs, rights and interests of citizens with disabilities, also has information on winter adaptive ski programs and other recreation for people with disabilities.

As physicians, we know the importance of exercise and recreation in maintaining a healthy physical and mental lifestyle, and people with disabilities are no different than anyone else.  Many times, these patients are not aware of what organizations and opportunities are available to them, regardless of age or athletic ability.  While the majority of those with disabilities will never compete on a Paralympic stage, they have their own mountains to climb and deserve the same opportunities as their able-bodied friends, families and colleagues.  Try to play basketball in a wheelchair sometime or do a back flip anywhere, and you’ll understand.

Regards,

Stuart J. Glassman, MD

Please send your questions or comments to president@nhms.org or post a comment below. 

Comments

this is an important issue for all of us both abled and disabled to maintain our health and enjoy life especially in our beautiful state. thank you for stating this point in a forum that so many physicians will read