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Colorado spinal cord injuries: Soldiers to compete in sports

Spinal cord injuries can be among the most traumatic events that a person can suffer in a car accident, or when serving the country as a soldier. One training program which is a joint effort between the Department of Defense and the U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Military & Veterans Program provides wounded soldiers who have suffered from maladies such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, lost limbs or conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder the opportunity to compete in competitive sports competitions. The events that the veterans will compete in at the 2013 Warrior Games being held in Colorado Springs are geared specifically toward those with disabilities.

The events include modified sports like wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball along with sports like swimming, archery and competitive shooting. Soldiers who hope to represent their country in the games typically compete in a week-long training and qualifying program which allows coaches to determine who they want for their teams. Ultimately, approximately 50 veterans who have suffered wounds like spinal cord injuries while in service will be selected to compete in the May competition.

Each event has its own rules, established by the Paralympics Committee. For instance, teams intending to compete in sitting volleyball can only have up to four 'able-bodied' athletes suffering from disabilities like traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder rather than a physical disability. The rest of the 12-man teams must consist of a mix of people with physical disabilities, such as amputees. When a volleyball game is taking place, teams can have no more than two able-bodied athletes on the court at any one time.

Those who have suffered spinal cord injuries or other disabilities while serving Colorado and the rest of the nation are often provided medical and other care through their military service. For those who suffer such injuries in a civilian accident, however, it may be necessary to file a personal injury case in a civil court in order to seek restitution for the medical and other relevant expenses incurred after an injury. Whether injured in a car accident or through military service, however, each person suffering spinal cord injuries or some other disability can benefit from understanding their rights under the law to better protect themselves.

Source: Belvoir Eagle, "Wounded Soldiers qualify for Army's Warrior Games sitting volleyball team," Rick Musselman, March 7, 2013

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