This past spring, WAS started offering a new program where students can connect and get active together. Matt Carter, a WAS board member, and physical therapist at Neuroworx and WAS student Taylor Cutler share why a diagnosis-specific group ride is an important resource and opportunity for the Utah community.
“I currently sit on the board of directors for Wasatch Adaptive Sports and function as the programming committee chair. I also work as a neurologic physical therapist, at Neuroworx in Sandy mainly working with people post spinal cord injury,” shares Matt.
“One of my goals since joining WAS has been to facilitate access to recreation for my patients post-injury. Traumatic injuries can be daunting, making it difficult to understand what the future will look like and how you can still live a joyful and fulfilled life. My patients having the ability to recreate after having a traumatic injury helps them move forward and find that joy and fulfillment again.”
“At Neuroworx, we strive to promote the rehabilitation of adults and children affected by paralysis due to neurological conditions and to create and support the finest, comprehensive, community-based outpatient physical, occupational, and speech therapy facility in the region. We do so not only through services within our facility but also through services provided within our community. By collaborating with WAS, Neuroworx has been able to provide patients with opportunities and access to recreation they otherwise would not have. Personally, as a therapist, it is great to see patients gain function and return to independence, however, it is even more rewarding to see patients return to life, start a new chapter, and move forward past their injury. Outdoor recreation allows some of our patients to feel like themselves again and this is the gift WAS gives them.”
“It is imperative for individuals who have experienced a spinal cord injury to have a solid support system and a strong social network. Almost 80% of people who sustain spinal cord injuries in the U.S. are male. Therefore, as a therapist, it is difficult to connect females with an SCI to other females within the community who have similar injuries. To help bridge this gap, we came up with the idea of connecting current and past females from Neuroworx with an SCI by having WAS organize a women’s SCI group bike ride. Thankfully, we have been blown away by the reception and overall excitement surrounding the women’s SCI bike ride. As a therapist it is very hard to force a connection between individuals, it has to be organic.”
Taylor Cutler, one of the women from the ladies rides, first got involved with WAS through Neuroworx through the skiing program. She has been handcycling with WAS now for about 3 years. She shared, “I was so excited when someone reached out to me from WAS and asked if I wanted to come to a group ride. It is so crazy that we have so many girls in chairs all around the same age, so of course, I wanted to come and connect with all of them.”
When asked what it meant to her to be able to ride with other women who are around the same age, Taylor replied, “For me, it means so much to ride with these amazing girls. We all are going through similar things and so it was so cool to go on this ride and experience this all together. My whole life, I have been one active gal so when my accident happened, I found it hard to be as active as I once was. Recently, I started going to the gym and working out, and that has brought so much happiness to my life. Being active is a big thing in my life. It may be a little harder from a chair, but that’s when you can get creative and find things you like.”
“I found that cycling is one of my favorite ways to be active from a chair. Once I’m all strapped in and ready to go,” shares Taylor, “I feel so free just riding these bikes. With handcycling, it’s the freedom part that really makes me come back each and every time. Also, with WAS they make it so easy to enjoy these rides and they make it so adaptable to all. I hope to just get my endurance up and connect with the girls more during these group rides!”
Matt shares, “The group ride has allowed the women to not only get out and experience biking but more importantly, to build relationships and a sense of community in a new and refreshing way.”
“There was a rumor from one of the last rides that the women are now telling the male WAS instructors to “get lost” because they want it to be a women’s only power ride! The female SCI rides have been so successful that WAS has decided to expand the group rides to include differing diagnoses such as brain injury, stroke, and amputees. Now, individuals with various disabilities can get together with others who have similar situations and build relationships and a community while recreating.”