Everyone is smiling on this golf outing.
Wheelchair users just want to have fun–and golf and bicycle and bowl and go kayaking. When the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Iowa (SCIAI) offers those opportunities to people with mobility issues, DMU physical therapy and osteopathic medicine students often volunteer to help.
“I enjoy the game of golf, so I thought it would be a good way to get out and help,” says Mike Spicka, D.P.T.’11, who helped at a SCIAI golf clinic in July. “I really enjoyed my experience because I was able to talk with the participants about things besides why they were in physical therapy. I’ve been doing so much studying from books and lectures, I forgot that physical therapy is about connecting with people as well.”
Other DMU students agree the experiences benefit them as much as the participants. They gain a better understanding of conditions that affect mobility and hands-on experiences with individuals and adaptive equipment. “I had the opportunity to help an individual experience a new activity for the first time and got the chance to get to know her as well,” says Jessie Gress, D.P.T.’11, who helped Angie Plager, the 2009 Ms. Wheelchair Iowa, hold and swing a golf club. “She taught us about her disability and how she copes with it day to day.”
Gress and other DMU students challenged Plager to hit the ball farther; if she didn’t, she had to dance for the group, but if she made the goal, the students had to dance for her.