Treating patients who use wheelchairs is one thing. Knowing what it feels like to navigate your life in a wheelchair is another.
Physical therapy students got a taste of the challenges when they played basketball in wheelchairs against the New England Blazers, a wheelchair basketball team based in Brockton.
“It was a true real-world educational experience,” says physical therapy student Connor Ryan who refereed the game. “We got a glimpse into the challenges that our future patients might endure.”
Hosted by the Physical Therapy Student Club, the annual event serves as the primary source of fundraising for the club and offers a night of entertainment and fun for both teams.
Coached by Paul Cowan, the New England Blazers compete in basketball tournaments on the East Coast. The practice game with UMass Lowell students helped to get them ready for the upcoming season.
“We hope that this event at UMass Lowell continues to give the Blazers some well-deserved exposure and praise because what they do is awesome,” says Ryan.
Students learned firsthand how hard it was just to maneuver the wheelchairs, especially with the added challenge of playing basketball. A few players on both sides even toppled out of their wheelchairs. Student Corey Samuelson had strapped on a video camera while playing the game, giving viewers a first-person perspective. See the video
“It was truly an eye-opening experience seeing how the New England Blazers were able to use their wheelchairs with such skill, ease and finesse,” says Ryan. “They are an amazing group of individuals with upbeat personalities and a positive outlook on life.”