Coordinating a world competition involving 500 athletes is challenging, coordinating a world competition involving 500 wounded Veteran athletes is monumental.
The Invictus Games story began when Prince Harry, an Afghanistan Veteran himself, visited the U.S. Warrior Games in 2013. Inspired from the power of adaptive sports to help Veterans rehabilitate, he created the Invictus Games in 2014, which held their inaugural event in London, England.
This year, the games are being held in Orlando, Florida, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
“When they were planning for the 2016 Invictus Games 2016, they reached out to the VA… No other health care organization can touch and provide the comprehensive healthcare like VA,” said Tim Leizert, Orlando VA Medical Center director.
Athletes with amputations, prosthetic devices and other adaptive equipment push their bodies in unique ways. Their stumps create friction with prosthetic devices, their equipment moves their body in non-natural ways and often the Veteran athletes are constantly managing injuries.
To care for the competing Veterans of fifteen nations, VA medical and mental health personnel from nearby are on site to provide support.
These games have inspired medical and rehabilitation collaboration amongst each nation’s experts. Coaches, trainers and even government leaders are sharing best practices.
U.S. Veterans who are inspired by the Invictus Games are encouraged to participate in VA Adaptive Sports programs which are held six times a year across the country.
While the motivation and energy is high at these events, many Veterans miss the support and camaraderie when they return home. To help Veterans continue their rehabilitation in-between events, VA has provided over $47.3 Million in adaptive sport grants to national and community programs across the country.
Find out more about VA sponsored and grant funded adaptive sports in your community, visit: http://www.va.gov/adaptivesports/ or see the national calendar of events at: http://go.activecalendar.com/adaptivesports