Atlanta, GA,
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Shepherd Center Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Provides Example of Shepherd Sports Opportunities

As part of its continued commitment to providing adaptive sports opportunities in metro Atlanta, Shepherd Center hosted its annual Shepherd Shootout wheelchair basketball tournament in the hospital's Livingston Gym on Nov. 1 and 2.

Shepherd Center's team, the Shepherd Stealers, took first place in the event, which drew four teams -- the Charlottesville Cardinals, Lakeshore Storm, Orlando Magic and Shepherd Stealers -- from around the nation. The Orlando Magic took second place, and Paul Schulte of that team was named Most Valuable Player. This was the 20th year for the annual wheelchair basketball tournament, which is held in early November.

"Shepherd Center continues to be a leader in the disabled sports community by serving as a training center for all adaptive sports and by providing education and expertise in athletic conditioning to enhance performance and wellness," says sports teams coordinator Matt Edens.

Shepherd Center sponsors 11 sports teams, which provide individuals with physical disabilities the opportunity to participate in athletic competition on a local, national and international level. Sports team members support the hospital’s mission by providing community awareness, peer support and demonstrating lifelong wellness.

Edens and Shepherd Center recreation therapy staff members introduce sports opportunities to inpatients and day program participants. Early access to sports equipment during inpatient rehabilitation allows the patient time to assess what equipment is the most appropriate before purchasing personal equipment, Edens explained. Also, it allows the patient to gain the knowledge necessary to become an advocate in their own community using the resources and experience gained at Shepherd Center.

“Participation in sports and recreation can have a profound impact on individuals with spinal cord and brain injuries,” Edens said.

In addition to helping participants achieve independence, adaptive sports can have the following benefits:

  • Physical improvements in strength, coordination, balance, endurance, pulmonary function and weight control.
  • Reduced likelihood of medical complications, such as skin breakdown, pneumonia and muscle atrophy.
  • Reduced risk of many chronic diseases.
  • Increased life expectancy.
  • Greater levels of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy.
  • Greater life satisfaction.
  • Reduced anxiety, depression and enhanced mood.
  • Greater likelihood of employment, with less absenteeism and enhanced productivity.
  • Greater level of reintegration into the community and an active and productive life.

For people interested in joining a Shepherd Center sports team, more information is available at Membership on a Shepherd Center sports team is open to athletes with any type of a physical disability, as long as the disability falls within the guidelines of the sport.

Shepherd sports include basketball, quad rugby, fencing, power soccer, racing, handcycling, swimming, bass fishing, water skiing, softball and indoor shooting.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.