Story and Photos by
Pacific Regional Medical Command Public Affairs
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS – Ten teams comprised of Army and Marine warriors in transition took to the gym floor to battle it out for the title of the best sitting volleyball team at a tournament held July 6, here.
The tournament, sponsored by the Army’s Warrior Transition Battalion, stationed here, is one of four adaptive sporting tournaments held each year. This event is the first time the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, has participated.
Adaptive sports, such as archery, cycling, wheelchair basketball, shooting, swimming, track and field, and sitting volleyball, play a major role in the recovery and healing process of wounded, ill and injured service members.
At the Army’s 29 Warrior Transition Units, each Soldier develops a personalized comprehensive transition plan that includes individual goals in six dimensions of life: physical, career, social, spiritual, emotional and family.
In coordination with the Paralympic Military Program, physical therapists and medical providers actively look for ways to incorporate adaptive sports into Soldiers’ treatment and recovery plans.
“(A WTB Soldier’s profile) not only states activities that the Soldier must not perform to avoid further injury, but also clears them for activities (that) they may participate in,” said Lori Lehouiller, physical therapist, WTB.
“Given the multiple diagnoses that WTB Soldiers typically have, it becomes nearly impossible to perform regular unit physical training, or PT,” Lehouiller said. “However, WTB Soldiers perform adapted reconditioning, which can include adapted sports as an acceptable form of physical training.”
One of the many adaptive sports WTB Soldiers in Hawaii participate in is sitting volleyball.
Sitting volleyball is similar to standing volleyball, except players must be sitting on the floor at all times. The game requires a smaller court and lower net. Often, games are played faster than standing volleyball.
“This fast-paced, yet low-impact sport is ideal for those with lower extremity injuries,” Lehouiller said. “(In addition to the Paralympics, it is also) played in the Warrior Games.”
Hawaii’s WTB Soldiers also participate in outrigger canoe paddling, aquatics, adapted water polo, suspension training, spinning and yoga.
Adapted reconditioning — or building off traditional exercise programs and offering alternative means of fitness, physical activity and sports — began being implemented here in December 2011. The goal is to be able to engage all of the WTB’s Soldiers, not just a select few.
“Returning to adapted sports can allow an individual to see what they can do, rather than what they cannot,” Lehouiller said. “In a team sport setting, we see Soldiers engage, exhibit camaraderie and a (sense of) healthy competition that they may have forgotten they had.
“For many of our WTB Soldiers,” Lehouiller continued, “knowing that they can continue some of these activities with their families gives them a great sense of satisfaction. They feel that they are doing something fun and worthwhile.”
Want to learn more about sitting volleyball? The Warrior Transition Battalion invites units to join in every Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30-8:30 a.m., at Schofield’s Martinez Physical Fitness Center, to observe or play.
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