Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Injured Veterans Get a Lift by Diving

We'll never grow tired of posting stories like this.

Physical therapy can be mentally exhausting and physically challenging. However, some injured veterans are managing to have their therapy and some fun, too. They're learning to dive as part of Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba, or SUDS, a program run by Red Cross volunteers at Bethesda's National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"Water is the great equalizer," says SUDS's president, John Thompson. "When you get them in the water, they don't have to deal with gravity. The pressure on prosthetics and the pain goes away."

But scuba diving still isn't easy. "I was a little nervous," says Shane Heath, a 29-year-old double amputee who's retired from the Army and living in Silver Spring. "It's not entirely natural to breathe underwater." And that's not to mention the equipment adaptations that veterans have to experiment with: Heath's SUDS instructors, for example, modified a motorized device that serves as a handheld propeller.

No matter the challenge, learning to dive offers some physical benefits. It has proved useful for Colin Luck, a Marine from Leesburg who's awaiting a medical discharge. Before joining SUDS, 20-year-old Luck, who suffers from the effects of multiple fractures, says "it was difficult to run down the basketball court and do sports . . . difficult to go to the gym and do a normal weightlifting workout." Afterward, he regained some mobility and is now working on getting certified to scuba through underwater wrecks.

Continue reading...

Bookmark and Share

No comments: