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PT on the Run

A Blog of Olympic Proportion

Published April 2, 2014 4:01 PM by Michael Kelley

Have you all seen what has been going on in Russia the last few weeks? No, not all that business with the Ukraine and Crimea (although honestly when was the last time one country just up and annexed part of another country? Seriously, it's been a while!). But I'm talking about the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. After all the pomp and circumstance of the "regular" Olympic Games back in February, the "disabled" athletes of the world descended upon the Olympic Village for two weeks to show the rest of us how awesome people really can be.

I doubt many people know much about the Paralympics, but I feel it's appropriate for this PT blog setting because I'm willing to bet at one point in their lives, each and every one of those Paralympians had dealings with a physical therapist. Regardless of their sport, the stress and strain even the most gifted, able-bodied athletes put on their bodies would likely warrant some PT intervention. Now imagine you are putting those same stresses and strains through one leg or one arm, for example. I was able to watch a little of the 2014 Paralympics on TV. NBC Sports Network was kind enough to air some of the skiing. It just blows my mind that these athletes are able to do what they do. It really is mind-boggling -- in an awesomely good way.

Team USA didn't do so hot in the medal count, amassing 18 total medals (2 gold, 7 silver, 9 bronze). It should be noted, and was actually covered pretty heavily on some of the major news stations, that the US men's sledge hockey team won gold (you'll recall the US men's "able-bodied" hockey team didn't even medal!). The other gold went to (and this is such an appropriate name) Evan Strong, a 27-year-old from California who won gold in the Para-Snowboard Cross. In 2004 he was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by a speeding car and ended up with a below-knee amputation of his left leg. Now he's a gold medalist. Talk about perseverance.

There's no doubt that all the athletes who participated in the Paralympics have their own stories of tragedy, perseverance and personal triumph. But the road to this triumph is filled with other people who help these athletes truly be all they can. So to all the Paralympians out there -- past, present and future -- thank you for inspiring us, and from a PT's perspective, thank you for showing us that with hard work and determination, we really can help make your wildest dreams come true. And to all the PTs out there who work with Paralympians, Team USA, or just your everyday para-athlete, from one PT to another I say, a job well done so far, and keep up the good work!

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