Brooks Rehabilitation’s Amazing Athletes

First Coast Magazine Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Article

 

By Maggie FitzRoy| Photography by Maggie FitzRoy and Brooks Rehabilitation

In high school, Ashley Cooper-Heath likes to say she was “a cliché.” She was on the track team, was a cheerleader, and was Homecoming Queen.

But since the beautiful young woman was involved in a car accident in 2004 at age 20, her life has been challenging in ways that most people could never imagine. Paralyzed from the waist down, she is in a wheelchair. She also has limited range of motion in her left shoulder, and has severe short-term memory problems.

She’s made her life a story of triumph by focusing on what she can do, rather than what she can’t. She’s a paratriathlete, competing in triathlons with adaptive equipment. She also plays tennis, water skis, and enjoys archery and billiards thanks to the Brooks Rehabilitation Adaptive Sports & Recreation Program, a nationally unique program that offers a multitude of free athletic and recreational activities for people with disabilities on the First Coast.

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Paramobile Lets Us Stand Up And Play

Stand Up and Play

During a sunny afternoon this past weekend, Bob Rhodin gained a whole new perspective on his golf swing while on the driving range at the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club.

He joined others from the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program for a hands-on demonstration of the newly acquired Paramobile, a para-golfer chair created by Anthony Netto, founder of the Stand Up and Play Foundation.

Anthony Netto

(L to R) Anthony Netto of the Stand Up and Play Foundation, striking a pose with Luther Delp at the Jacksonville Beach Golf Club on Aug. 8, 2014.

After years of rehabilitation therapy, the wounded veteran and victim of a drunk driver over 20 years ago, began to lose hope in ever being able to enjoy a game of golf again. As a former professional golfer, this was a huge factor in motivating him to invent a way to get back on the green.

“Sitting around and moaning has never been my thing,” he explained, adding, “I had to take action.”

He reached out to friends and family and in 2001, started the Stand Up and Play Foundation and created the first prototypes of the Paramobile with the company Ottobock.

Paramobile Golf Clinic

Paramobile Golf Clinic 2014

The first thing he noticed when he used the prototype was his ability to fully breathe again. It changed his life.

“When you see a ball thrown from eye level or hug a loved one in the standing position – there’s nothing like it. It’s an empowering feeling,” he said. “I felt like a man again.”

For more than a decade, Anthony has traveled around to different organizations and groups representing his Foundation and the amazing adaptive equipment they have made available to the disabled community.

Anthony spent the day this past weekend with the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, highlighting the advantages of the Paramobile, including its solid frame, secure footing, speed, and ability to handle gradients and inclines. To show the chairs abilities, Anthony steered the Paramobile with a one-handed joystick up and down the golf course slopes and even into a sand pit. It easily maneuvered the unsteady terrain.

The chair was originally designed to allow disabled golfers the opportunity to swing from a standing position, but can also be used for other sports such as trap shooting and archery.

The Paramobile has therapeutic benefits as well, including; improvement with metabolism, stretching of the muscles, reduces spasticity and helps repair bone density.

Beyond all the medical advantages to the chair, Anthony is quick to point out the most important aspect.

“It’s fun and it’s comfortable,” he said, adding, “It gets you out there again, able to enjoy life.”

The Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program plans to utilize the new piece of adaptive equipment for monthly golf activities and tournaments as well take it for a trial run for outdoor trap shooting.

Check out all the photos from the Paramobile Golf Clinic on our Flickr page!

Paramobile Demonstration

To learn more about the Paramobile and the Stand Up and Play Foundation, visit www.stand-up-and-play.com.

Let Your Heart Shine Talent Show

TalentShow_2

Nancy Williams, a member of the Brooks Clubhouse, and her father Frank Williams performed two songs for the audience during the talent show.

Let Your Heart Shine Talent Show

Deborah Lynn Thompson entertained the crowd with her candid storytelling skills and showcased three of her acrylic paintings from her time spent as a full-time student at the Florida School of the Arts.

Let Your Heart Shine Talent Show
Friday night welcomed nearly 100 people at Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital for the 2nd annual Let Your Heart Shine Talent Show. The special event was created to help raise funds for the American Heart Association Heart Walk.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases claim more than 813,804 American lives a year. 

Brooks employees, volunteers and patients support the efforts to help the AHA raise funding and awareness.

This year’s talent show highlighted performances by participants of the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation program as well as members of the Brooks Clubhouse. There was singing, stand-up (or sit-down) comedy, skits, signing and storytelling.

Brandon Hull kicked-off the night with a song he wrote as a tribute to his father Tom Hull, a participant in the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation program. Brandon was followed by the youngest performer of the night, Gage Burns, who had the crowd laughing during his stand-up comedy routine. The night continued with performances by caregivers, Kathi Reyes and Debbie Delp, Brooks Clubhouse member David Herring, Greg Crawforth and many more.

Visit our Flickr page to view more photos from the event: Let Your Heart Shine

TalentShow_5

Luther Delp entertained the audience with his rendition of Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.

Monthly Spotlight | Power Soccer Strikes Again

Brooks Barracudas

When Michael Braun first began volunteering with the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Power Soccer Program, he had little knowledge of the competitive team sport developed specifically for power wheelchair users.

Although he wasn’t familiar with the specifics of the game, an interest was sparked and he began volunteering with the team. He brought with him a spirit for helping others, a passion for the sport of soccer, and his background as an occupational therapist for Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital.

He attended a few practices and walked away with a new appreciation for the skill and tactic involved in the fast-pace game.

Towards the end of the 2012 season, he was asked to take on the role of head coach for the Brooks Barracudas Power Soccer Team.

“Growing up with soccer, I knew I wanted to get involved in the community and coach a youth team of some sorts, but when this opportunity came about, I had to jump at the chance to be a part of it,” he explained.

Brooks Barracudas

Brooks Barracudas 2013

Brooks Barracudas Brooks_PowerSoccer28

Power Soccer is the first competitive sport created specifically for power wheelchair users. Participants include those with quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, head trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury and other disabilities.

As Michael took on the role as head coach, he gained a new appreciation for the sport. To play the game well, Power Soccer requires a player to have skill with maneuvering the wheelchair’s speed and power while understanding the complexity of the game itself.

“I was drawn to the motivation of the players on the team,” he said, adding, “They were interested in learning more, practicing, and putting in the work. They took action. They wanted to improve and continue to move up as a team to compete at a higher level.”

Power Soccer first came on the scene back in 1970 by a group of teachers in France who wanted to create a form of football suited to the abilities of students with physical disabilities. Initially, the game was played with an old basketball and boards lining the side of the courts. The game was declared an official international sport in 2004, thanks to the work of US Power Soccer coach, David Ruelas.

Today, Power Soccer consists of two teams of four players on a full size basketball court, striking, spin-kicking, and defending with a 13-inch soccer ball. (Click here to read: The Laws of the Game).

Brooks Barracudas

To stay at the top of their game, the Barracudas practice year round, amping up the training in the fall. The season kicks off in November and is then followed by roughly five weekend tournaments, with the end goal of making it to the Conference Cup.

The Barracudas reached this goal this past June, playing in the tournament in Indianapolis and successfully moving up to the 3rd Division known as the Founders Cup.

“I’m very proud of how well they played this year and all the hard work they’ve put into each practice and game,” Michael said. “They’re commitment and dedication is what is going to drive this team to continue to grow and become stronger each season. I’m excited about what the future holds.”

Brooks Barracudas Weekly Practice

Thursdays @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Cuba Hunter Community Center and Gymnasium
3500 Hunter Road
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Fort Caroline Archery Club Is Right On Target

Brooks Adaptive Archery Program

With the new archery season kicking off once again, the staff and participants of Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation (BASR) program continue to be extremely grateful to the Fort Caroline Archery Club for their generous support over the past 8 years. The Club has donated space, coaching, volunteer service and equipment since 2007. 

Participants of BASR practice target archery, the most common form of archery where the shooter shoots at scoring rings on round paper targets at set distances.  There are various disiplines and distances to shoot from which allows archers of all skill levels to participate.

Each Monday evening, volunteer coaches Mike Shea and Billy Schneider provide expert instruction while shop owner, Mike Box, provides custom fitting of the equipment to leverage the archers’ skill. It is this generosity that has enabled our Program to quadruple the number of individuals served in the adaptive archery weekly events.

The BASR Archery Events meet on a rotating novice and league night schedule every Monday. Email Jennifer.Guss@brookshealth.org for any additional questions.

Brooks Archery Program 2014The BASR program serves individuals in the Jacksonville community and surrounding areas living with mobility impairment caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and conditions such as parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and more.

Without the Fort Caroline Archery Club as a community partner, the BASR program would not be able to reconnect so many people with their love for  the sport of archery and ignite the passion in so many newcomers . The staff, participants and volunteers thank the Fort Caroline Archery Club for helping us enhance the quality of life for our customers.

Brooks Archery Program 2014

To learn more about the Fort Caroline Archery Club, visit www.fortcarolinearchers.com.

11678 Fort Caroline Road 
Jacksonville, FL. 32225
Pro Shop: (904) 996-0011

Read More about Adaptive Archery in this great article by Disabled Sports USA: http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/archery/