SportsAble, a registered charity based in Maidenhead, Berkshire which specialises in the delivery of sport for people with disabilities, has completed a successful pilot with Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, offering NHS patients the opportunity to trial wheelchair basketball as part of their rehabilitation programme.

Since the programme’s launch early in 2016, several participants that have finished their rehabilitation, within the acute setting, and   have now been discharged from the amputee therapy service have gone on to join SportsAble. Through becoming a member of SportsAble and participating in regular physical and social activities, the patients are now taking more personal responsibility for their ongoing physical and mental health.

Nicola Bobyk, Senior Occupational Therapist at Wexham Park Hospital, says:

“The impact of this project on patients involved has been incredible. Introducing patients to practical physical activity sessions and introducing them to the joys of sport in a fun, friendly and non-threatening environment, which we have not previously been able to do, has proved to be highly effective.

“In the short term, we have noticed a very positive impact on the mood of patients. Encouraging fun and laughter as part of their treatment has helped to give patients back a sense of enjoyment, achievement and self-fulfilment that many may not have experienced since their amputation.

In the longer term, patients have been keen to participate more regularly in sport, with several patients visiting SportsAble and signing up as members. It is fantastic to see patients taking responsibility for their own ongoing rehabilitation and sense of fulfilment .”

SportsAble, established over 40 years ago, offers a safe, social and supportive environment where people with disabilities can enjoy a wide range of sports from boccia to air weaponry, from table tennis to wheelchair basketball. The facilities offer full accessibility and a comprehensive selection of adaptive equipment, enabling the charity to accommodate a wide variety of disabilities, sporting preferences and abilities.

Kerl Haslam, CEO at SportsAble, says:

“Programmes like the one at Wexham Park Hospital sit at the heart of our community strategy. Our ambition is to deliver sport and all its benefits to as many people as possible. It’s not always possible for people to come to us. therefore, we must go to them. Once people sample what we offer, they never look back and generally become members for life.

“Since running wheelchair basketball sessions at Wexham Park Hospital, seven participants have joined our club. These seven have been signed off by the NHS and are now investing in their own mental and physical care through their annual membership at SportsAble.

“Prior to us running the wheelchair basketball sessions at the hospital none of the participants would have considered joining a sports and social club. Now they are all part of the furniture here, attending multiple sessions, enjoying a wide range of sports and getting fully involved in our social programme.”

The wheelchair basketball sessions ran once every 6 weeks throughout 2016 and were offered to amputee patients. Over the course of each two-hour session, participants were taught how to handle a sports chair and perform basic skills such as ball passing, catching and dribbling. Each session concluded with a competitive game and the emphasis throughout was on fun, social integration, mobility and physical skill development.

Haslam concludes:

“I absolutely love running these sessions, it’s the best part of my job. For the two hours’ patients are with us, they escape the clinic environment. We show them that despite going through horrific trauma, there are still opportunities to have fun, to laugh and to challenge themselves. Instead of focusing on what can’t be done, we focus on what can be done. We show patients what they are capable of, helping them back into sport and back into a fulfilling life.”

SportsAble is now keen to offer similar opportunities to oth