A hospital sponsoring a surfing trip to Long Island for young patients with disabilities gives new meaning to the term “patient care.” The Adaptive Sports Academy at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is enabling young patients with cerebral palsy, an amputation or other physical challenge to participate in athletic activities they never dreamed possible.
The Adaptive Sports Academy organizes trips and recreational experiences for pediatric patients to build their self-confidence, encourage independence, and increase physical activity and mobility. The first adaptive surfing trip is set for Monday, August 14, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm in Long Beach, on Long Island.
Adaptive sports are competitive or recreational sports for people with disabilities. HSS works with trained volunteers from local and national adaptive sports organizations to support patients participating in the academy. Depending on the activity, rules or equipment may be modified to meet the needs of participants. Trained volunteers at Skudin Surf in Long Beach will be helping the young people, ages 7 to 21, ride the waves on August 14.
Several patients who’ve signed up for the surfing excursion have cerebral palsy. They’ve had multiple surgeries and use crutches or a walker to get around. One patient has prosthetic legs. Some will need a wheelchair to get to the water, but that won’t stop them from getting on the surfboard. On previous trips, they were thrilled to learn they could climb a rock wall or ski down a slope. Other patients looking forward to the surfing trip are new to adaptive sports. All are very excited about learning how to surf.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to socialize with other patients and accomplish things they didn’t realize they could achieve,” says Peyton Katz, pediatric patient and family care coordinator at HSS. “It’s also an incredible experience for parents who become aware of what their children are capable of.”
Previous outings have proven to be life-changing for many children and teenagers, enabling them to participate in a sport for the very first time. A 21 year-old patient who previously went on an adaptive skiing trip said it was “liberating.” The HSS program is offered without cost, thanks to the generosity of Academy sponsors.
“The Adaptive Sports Academy gives our patients a chance to develop new skills and interests, and it promotes mobility and activity. It also reinforces therapy goals by engaging participants in a new activity and requiring them to use their bodies in a new way,” explains Dr. Lisa Ipp, chief of Pediatric Medicine at HSS. “There is also an emotional component. Patients are so excited about what they can achieve, and parents are so thrilled to watch them. The outings have also cultivated connections between families who stay in contact long after the event ends.”
“Some kids are not sure at first how well they’ll do, but they always exceed their own expectations,” Peyton says. “Some parents cry when they see what their child can accomplish.”
After the surfing event, patients will be able to try their hand at horseback riding. An adaptive/therapeutic horseback riding trip is scheduled in Mount Kisco, New York at the end of August.
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About Hospital for Special Surgery
Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2017-2018), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. HSS is an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. HSS has locations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. For more information, visit www.hss.edu