The National Veterans Wheelchair Games challenge Veterans to excel in sports and competitions, but the slalom wheelchair course prepares them for real life activities.

The wheelchair slalom course began as a simple obstacle course at VA hospitals to help Veterans practice on uneasy terrain. But this recreational therapy tool soon took on a life as its own as a competition.

The slalom wheelchair course quickly found a place at the games as one of the most beloved events.

VA recreational therapists love it, too. The hardest part of rehabilitation is often the inherent motivation to put in the time and practice, like any sport.

Veterans “really enjoy doing it,” said Will Haven, a Tampa, Florida VAMC physical therapist. “It gives them more confidence in the chair. We have a course at the Tampa, Fla., VA and it has really been fun for them.”

This is U.S. Army Veteran Joel Rodriguez’s first time to the National Veteran Wheelchair Games and he has been excited to compete in the slalom.

Haven is Rodriguez’s VA recreational therapist. They work together to prepare for the event both before and on the day of the competition.

As Rodriguez entered the queue, Haven could be heard giving him last minute advice on the obstacles. The crowd loudly cheers the Veteran navigates the course, cheers that are well-deserved for the effort shown by each of the competitors.

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Published on Jun. 26, 2015

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