Back in the Game with Adaptive Sports - Northport VA Medical Center
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Northport VA Medical Center

 

Back in the Game with Adaptive Sports

Boxing Instructor Anthony White holds the focus pads for an eager Veteran.

Boxing Instructor Anthony White holds the focus pads for an eager Veteran during Northport VAMC's 8th-annual Adaptive Sports Clinic.

By Todd Goodman
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Northport VAMC’s Recreation Service recently held its 8th-annual Adaptive Sports Clinic on VA grounds and it was a coming together of Veterans, sports, and adaptability.
The mindset—get back in the game, work around injuries, and have fun. Across the grounds that’s exactly what took place. From boxing and archery to recumbent bicycles and golf simulation, Veterans had a mulititude of activities from which to choose. And if they needed cooling off, scuba diving with certified instructors was available in the pool.

“This was my first Adaptive Sports Clinic and it has been excellent,” said Al Cozine, 68, a Vietnam Veteran with 27 years of Army service. “The staff is excellent. They go out of their way to help the Veterans.” A teaching pro from PGA Hope helps a Veteran with his swing on the golf simulator during Northport's Adaptive Sports Clinic.

A teaching pro from PGA Hope helps a Veteran with his swing on the golf simulator during Northport's Adaptive Sports Clinic.

Cozine has utilized Northport VAMC services since 1995, particularly acquatic therapy—water aerobics in both the shallow and deep ends of the pool. But what keeps him coming back to Northport is its staff.

“The staff is excellent,” he said. “It’s the people on the front line dealing with the Veterans that make the difference.”

Cozine said he has known Patrick Campbell, assistant chief of Recreation Therapy, since Campbell was an instructor in the pool.

“He knows your name and what classes you’re in,” Cozine said of Campbell. “He’ll take the time to talk to you, to ask what you think they can do to improve the program. He knows me because I’ve been coming here for so long, but he takes time to know the new guys, too, which shows me that he cares. The entire Recreation Therapy staff is like that, and that means something to us Veterans.”
It means something to the staff as well.

 

A Veteran steadies his aim prior to releasing it toward the target during Northport's Adaptive Sports Clinic. Archery was one of many activities from which Veterans could choose.

A Veteran steadies his aim prior to releasing it toward the target during Northport's Adaptive Sports Clinic. Archery was one of many activities from which Veterans could choose.

“I thought it went great,” said Campbell.  “All of the Veterans in attendance really loved it. Seeing the smiles on their faces made it all worth it.”

But there was more than just Recreation Therapy Service involved. Social Work Service provided 10-12 staff members, Engineering Service, the VA Police Dept., and the grounds crew played a crucial role, as did staff from Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

Rec. Therapy Chief Susan Pisano echoed those sentinments when she addressed the large crowd over lunch, saying it wouldn’t have been possible without all of the employees involved, volunteer organizations, and community partners.
 
“This is a huge endeavor and one service cannot do it alone,” said Pisano. “Everyone put in a lot of work. You need the medical center as a whole. We need a team involved to keep this a success.”
 
Some Veterans who attended the clinic already have followed up with Recreation Therapy’s weekly scheduled adaptive sports clinics, which was the point of the event—to get Veterans back into the game.
 
“We’re showcasing what we’re doing all of the time, but when we do it all in one day, Veterans can get little pieces of the whole pie,” said Pisano. “It gives them an opportunity to see what we offer and adjust their schedules to participate on a weekly basis if they’d like.”

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