New Mexico VA Health Care System
Veterans Dive into Therapy
When one reads, or hears the phrase “Adaptive Sports,” one generally might bring to mind visions of a softball game, or a wheelchair basketball game. One might even think of alternative means of bicycle riding, for that matter. However, something that might rarely come to mind is scuba diving.
New Mexico VA Health Care System Veterans were treated to a rare opportunity to learn all about scuba diving and how this sport has slowly become a means of therapy. The VA partnered with the Cody Unser First Step Foundation’s dive team, Operation Deep Down, and recently met with Veterans at Albuquerque’s West Mesa Aquatic Center for an introduction to scuba diving.
Albuquerque Navy Veteran Kevin Thom, a single leg amputee, found it to be both fun and therapeutic. “When you’re floating weightless out there the pain seems to subside quite a bit, he said. This is fun and I look forward to learning more.”
Adaptive scuba is not a new concept, in fact the Handicapped Scuba Association (HAS) Dive Training Agency, has certified disabled divers for more than 20 years. Scuba diving continues to attract participants with paralysis because it provides weightlessness and is an activity-based therapy.
Many health care professionals feel activity-based therapy offers more beneficial results. In the case of scuba diving, it can decrease the occurrence of pressure sores while enjoying a sport; it improves circulation and pulmonary function; it can help oxygenate tissues and provide a sensory experience; it builds confidence and can bring a sense of normalcy to a disabled person’s life.
For more information about the Adaptive Sports Program with the New Mexico VA Health Care System, contact Cat Ivie at 505-265-1711 ext. 2030. For more photos, please see our Face Book page: https://goo.gl/HlVSxP