Readers of Momentum sent us stories of sports they turned to when they were no longer able to do the sports they once loved. Here is a selection of their inspiring tales.
Hippotherapy (horseback riding)
I was a runner, hiker, biker—I loved being in the outdoors. After I was diagnosed three years ago, my brother suggested that I learn to ride because the horse can walk for me. My riding lessons from a certified therapist involve exercising on horseback as well as learning the basics of riding. My goal is to be able to enjoy trail riding with friends and family. Hippotherapy, as horseback-riding therapy is called, exercises muscles that are normally neglected. Many think that the movements of the horse are therapeutic. I believe that contact with these animals is healing to the spirit.
For more information on hippotherapy, visit the American Hippotherapy Association or the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH).
I found the Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte, Colorado, by accident. The instructors gladly take new “customers” like me, and coax us into using an apparatus called a bi-ski. The person is strapped tightly in a seat atop two skis and shown how to use “outriggers,” or short poles with short skis at the bottom for balance.
With the positive reinforcement of the instructors, I was soon empowered to ski. I rode up on a lift with my wife for the first time in 10 years. During the first run, the instructor held my bi-ski from behind with control straps. Yes, there were many falls, but I had skied before, so the experience brought back the old skiing sensations. Just like traditional skiing, one progresses to a higher level each year.
—Walker H. Bateman IV
Having been a 55-mile-a-week recreational runner, I truly miss it. I experienced a significant loss of control in my left leg and after a battery of tests, I was diagnosed with MS.
I knew I needed athletic stimulation to keep me whole. My wife and I had always been avid bicyclists, but I didn’t feel comfortable going out with her on a 50-mile ride and being stranded if I was unable to finish. We decided to try a tandem bicycle so she could monitor me and know when it was time to come home. We do 10 miles (not 50), but it is good exercise and the breeze it creates keeps me cool. When not bicycling, I join my wife with her exercise videos.
—A. J. Cetel
I was born 53 years ago, and I went through ballroom dancing, jazz, disco, and modern—but mostly tap dancing. As the song goes, “Oh, What a Feeling!” I am thankful I still have so much mobility, but I can’t even do a basic time step. My legs are like lead. It broke my heart, until I discovered I can “fake it” in line dancing. Sliding my feet is still possible. A slow song is best. Mixed in with a crowd, it’s a blast. I’m not the only one making mistakes! And if I’m wobbly and out of step, so what? I’m having fun, and I’m not letting MS get me. I also watch any movie or video that has dancing in it. I can’t do it, but who says I can’t enjoy watching it!
If you’re interested in recreational golf for people with MS, visit Play Golf America, an initiative sponsored by The Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA). The website includes helpful information and resources. Use the online search tool to locate PGA professionals with experience providing instruction to individuals with disabilities.
A new plan
I had planned a retirement full of sports activities—racquetball, sail boarding, jogging, tennis, skating, skiing, etc., but I developed MS and, with it, fatigue, lower-body weakness, and poor balance.
I am now writing a new retirement story that includes walking, weight lifting, golf, freelance writing, reading, photography, and catching up on the latest electronic gadgets. When I compare the two retirement stories, the post-MS-diagnosis story actually looks better!
—Bill Anthony, PhD