Adaptive Reconditioning Sports; Healing mind, body, and souls

WTU Force Structure (L-R) Staff Sgt. Tim McNeil, Staff Sgt. Anthony Torres, Sgt. Tiffany Franklin and Capt. Alex Delgado gear up for Ladderball practice. (Photo Courtesy Brad Bowen)

By Annette P. Gomes Warrior Care Transition


Capt. Alex Delgado never met a sport he didn’t like.

“I was very active. In high school, I played baseball and was a member of the swim team. I also participated in intramural sports including soccer, football, softball and volleyball,” Delgado said.

The Texas native earned several awards for his athletic abilities, but he repeatedly injured his ankle over the course of several years and an injury sustained in 2011 really began to hinder his physically active lifestyle. “The injury has definitely changed my outlook on life. I had to stop participating in organized sports for fear of making the injury worse. Adaptive reconditioning has opened my eyes to activities I had previously not given much thought to,” he said.

The former infantryman is recovering at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Sam Houston. He quickly set his sights on several adaptive reconditioning sports including cycling, archery and ladder ball, a low impact sport closely resembling horseshoes.

“I am limited in what physical activities I am permitted to do. Ladder ball is an activity that incorporates sport and competition within my capabilities. I am happy to see the adaptive reconditioning team being creative in familiarizing WTU Soldiers with new sports.”

Fort Sam Houston’s Adaptive Reconditioning Program Coordinator Brad Bowen introduced Ladder Ball to Soldiers in transition participating in AR activities. “I was first introduced to Ladder Ball as a Cub Scout Leader. I immediately introduced it to our leadership. I was always looking for activities that address our six domains of care within the adaptive reconditioning program including; career, physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual,” Bowen explained. “We have so many different servicemen that can no longer perform at a high level of impact. This is a wonderful option for Soldiers.”

Participation in adaptive sports or other adaptive reconditioning activities, whether competitive or non-competitive, are a key to helping wounded, ill or injured Service member’s physical recovery. Adaptive reconditioning is linked to a variety of benefits including reducing dependency on pain and depression medication, developing fewer secondary medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and an increased level of independence.

Delgado says the lessons he and his fellow Soldiers are learning go beyond physical activity.

“It’s like night and day. Over a period of time you see their personalities resurface. Injuries shouldn’t keep you down, it’s about adapting and finding a way to make the most of what you have. Life is full of challenges, but you have to push through.”

Delgado plans to return to duty as a Public Affairs Officer at Fort Sam Houston's 205th Press Camp Headquarters after completing his rehabilitation.