Shenandoah University’s Division of Physical Therapy held an adaptive golf event in April, capping a Spring 2023 semester during which the program conducted three clinics designed to help people with physical disabilities play sports.
The inaugural First Swing Seminar and Learn to Golf Clinic, held in coordination with the National Amputee Golf Association (NAGA), took place on April 13, at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal, Virginia. The clinic drew eight adaptive athletes who were assisted by SUPT students and local SUPT graduates as well as volunteer physical therapists.
Instructors for the clinic included adaptive athletes Adam Benza, director of instruction at NAGA; Jeremy Bittner, vice president of the Eastern Amputee Golf Association; Alex Fourie and Jeff Henderson.
Second-year Shenandoah University physical therapy students Emma Wagley, Kimmie Melendez, Kayla Perry and Morgan Plaza participated in the SUPT & Adaptive Sport clinical experience, while fellow students Ethan Calkins and Neyi Behl were present to observe and assist as needed. SUPT alumni David Divine ’15, Chris Linehan ’15 and Brooke Purdue served as clinical instructors.
The research is clear that sport participation improves physical and mental health. But the people who may be left out of this are those who cannot access or do not know that most any sport can be adaptive to meet the physical ability of the person. The goal of this innovative SUPT adaptive sports program is to open the door to sports participation to anyone.”
Melissa Wolff-Burke, Ed.D., SUPT’s associate director of clinical education
The SUPT & Adaptive Sport clinical, led by Dr. Wolff-Burke, is an outgrowth of the previous SUPT & Ski program that was held for 10 years at Wintergreen Resort in Nellysford, Virginia. This new clinical experience, held at and near SU during the Spring 2023 semester, consisted of three sports: pickleball, scuba diving and golf. Eight people from the community, ranging in age from 12 to 78, with a chronic disability as a result of stroke, quadriplegia, paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease or traumatic brain injury, received instruction in activities to improve their everyday function and sport participation.
“I felt like this gave us a great introduction to the breadth of adaptive sports and the different types of people involved,” Wagley said. “My biggest takeaway is how important it is to tell patients, friends, and co-workers about adaptive sports. It can change lives and be an extremely exciting part of physical therapy. There are a variety of sports that could work for many different types of people, but they need to know the sports exist.”