This is another old post from our previous website. We will begin posting new content on a regular basis starting this week. However, since we wanted to share some older material today. Enjoy!
The month of October is very exciting this year! That is because we have begun the preliminary wheelchair basketball games leading up the main event, our 3rd Annual Abilities Tip-Off on Nov. 16th. On Oct. 5th we gathered at Wilkes University for our first preliminary event, and on Oct. 19th we will be holding our next event at Misericordia University. We will also be holding prelims on Nov. 1 at Lackawanna College, and on Nov. 15 at the University of Scranton.
One of our goals for this webpage has always been to celebrate every individual’s abilities. There is so much that can be done if each of us focuses on our abilities even in a small way. By doing this we can build up positive attitudes and become better each day. Sometimes there are obstacles that must be overcome in order to participate in activities in a healthy way. It is one goal of our group is to make the general public aware of obstacles which individuals who have spinal cord injuries, or use wheelchairs, may face. In this way, our Annual Abilities Tip-Off brings a fun event to the public and allows us to spread awareness in our community, celebrating what we can do.
In this post, I would like to begin our focus on ways in which adaptive sports equipment has helped open new doors for individuals with disAbilities. The majority of adaptive sports came into existence after WWII, when returning injured veterans began looking for ways to participate in more activities. However, one of the most popular adaptive sports, wheelchair basketball, can trace its roots to 1944, and the work of Ludwig Guttmann.
Guttman was a Jewish doctor who fled Nazi Germany, for Britain, just before the start of WWII. He was a neurosurgeon by trade, but in 1944, because of experience that he had with spinal cord injuries, the British government asked him to establish the National Spinal Cord Injuries Center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. A major part of Dr. Guttmann’s philosophy was that sport was a major therapy method for those veterans returning from the war. Not only did sports help these individuals build up physical strength, but also, they were able to maintain self-respect. Though Dr. Guttmann’s adaptations for basketball were a little different from how the sport is played today, it is important to note his influence on the American version of the game. In addition, Dr. Guttmann was the first organizer of the Stoke Mandeville Games, which was held on the same day as the start of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. These games continued every year after, and are now known as the Paralympic Games.
So what about the equipment for basketball? Well, even though this was one of the earliest games adapted, it was played using regular wheelchairs for quite awhile. Usually, a sport must be rather popular before specialized equipment is created for it, and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that wheelchair basketball athletes, alongside wheelchair manufacturers, began developing lightweight chairs that are quick, durable, and can turn on the spot. Now they come with many additional fixtures, and are made with sets of three of four wheels.
Though wheelchair basketball has become an iconic activity in the US, there are other adaptive sports that are beginning to hold there own. Join us next time for a look at our next sport. We will leave it a surprise… 🙂