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Wild sport for wheelchair users

Wheelchair athletes have a wild sport that's fast-paced, rough and wild. I saw the 2005 movie "Murderball" and there's also a short video attached to this CNN article by Leslie Wade, featuring commentary from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that gives you a taste of wheelchair rugby — perhaps a little less wild-and-crazy than the movie.  

The article focuses on Talbot Kennedy, who injured his neck vertebrae on a trampoline.  He is paralyzed from the chest down, the article says.  Now, Kennedy, a college student working toward a physical-education degree, is heavily involved in wheelchair rugby.

"This full-contact sport provides an important competitive outlet. Many like Kennedy were also athletes before they got hurt. Instead of using their feet and a soccer ball, these men and women use their hands to throw, catch or dribble a volleyball," the article says.

The United States Quad Rugby Association says "there is story after story of people getting involved with the sport who have found, through peer interaction or just the raw desire to compete, the competitive outlet they hadn’t felt since before their disability."

So if you've had a spinal injury, check out the video with this article and see if the sport is for you. Who qualifies to play?  Players say things online such as "if you can push a manual (wheelchair) at all you can play" when asked if a power chair can be used.  

"There are many players that start out in a powerchair. don't hesitate," says another.  It seems, too, that players often get an added bonus — they lose weight!

Pulse on Health

By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists

Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904


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Glad to hear from you. Still never been to a game myself, but will if the opportunity arises while traveling. Our community doesn't have a wheelchair rugby team — yet.

I've seen a couple of wheelchair rugby games before, and I just can't explain the inspiration and admiration that I felt for these athletes. They never stopped pursuing their passion for sports and fitness, and I respect them for that. My son, who's also a rugby player, shares the same resilience as them.

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