The Paralympic Games Epitomises Rehabilitation

There are 1.2 billion persons with disabilities that represent 15% of the world’s population. Through our actions, we can improve disability visibility, inclusion and accessibility. To learn more and find out how you can be involved visit the #WeThe15 website.

The Paralympic movement is so much more than elite athletes participating at the top level of society. It encompasses hope, perseverance, and mental and physical adaptability. I’ve worked as a physiotherapist for Team South Africa at the previous two Paralympic Games and this time I get to watch and experience the accomplishments of these amazing athletes right here in my living room.

I remember how I sat next to a para-track athlete 10 years ago as he dreamed of his paralympic career and planned the intense training to follow. And I remember the patient who needed support from his prosthetist and physio to start training again and is now participating in his second Paralympic Games.

The fact is that not every person with an amputation or child with cerebral palsy will be a world-class athlete. But every person can do with the motivation to be physically active. Rehabilitation professionals can steer and assist patients towards community activities that promote physical activity.

The Paralympic Games is an exciting opportunity for rehabilitation professionals to get knowledgeable about different sports in their area and how their patients can get involved. While there are avenues to get classified and participate at a national and international level most people only need help to get past the barriers keeping them from participating locally.

By being an advocate for physical activity and the inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream local sporting activities you are helping to change the attitudes towards people with disabilities. There is a “growing acknowledgement of the impact of sports participation upon the psychological and physical wellbeing of people with disabilities”(Brittain, 2012).

“……I just want to prove that disability is not a hindrance in achieving your goal.
It’s just an instrument in reaching success in your life”
Josephine Medina, Para Table Tennis

If you don’t know anything about sport for people with disabilities then start by watching YouTube videos. The Paralympic Games YouTube Channel is live streaming the Games and they also have videos about the different sports with explanations about the sport and classification. There are also more videos to explain what classification is and how it is applied in different sporting codes.

To find out about paralympic sports in your country and how athletes can get involved, contact your National Paralympic Committee.

Learn more about Sports and Physical Activity for Individuals with a Physical Disability by following these links: