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Competing in the Olympics for those with a Brain Injury

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At Brethertons we are passionate about ensuring clients who have suffered acquired brain injuries have just as a fulfilling life after an accident as they did before.

For some clients, that means participating in sports, whether that’s on a professional level or the local Sunday football team.  

With the opening ceremony of the Paralympics having just taken place, it’s interesting to consider where those who have suffered a brain injury fit in.

The Olympic classification for the Paralympics has three steps:

1. Does the athlete have an eligible impairment for the sport?

2. Does the athlete’s eligible impairment meet the minimum disability criteria of the sport?

3. Which sport class describes the athlete’s activity limitation most accurately?

So, what is classified as impairment? There are 10 eligible impairment types however brain injuries falls into the following description;

Ataxia: Lack of co-ordination of muscle movements due to a neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy, brain injury or multiple sclerosis.

Therefore, unless a brain injury causes a physical impairment, those with a brain injury are not eligible to compete in the Paralympics and instead, are eligible for the Olympics.

William Fox-Pitt, Olympic horse, rider is the epitome of success in regaining a fulfilling life in sports after suffering an acquired brain injury.  In 2015 he suffered a brain injury after falling off his horse.  He was in an induced coma for six weeks but once he regained consciousness his rehabilitation was implemented quickly.  So much so, he competed again in this year’s Rio Olympics.   Talking to ‘Horse and Hound’ magazine, Fox-Pitt said, “Lots of people felt very strongly that enough was enough and I certainly thought about that, but horses are a big part of my life and give me a lot of pleasure.

He added, 'I love being around horses so they were a big part in my rehab — they really gave me something to go for and push myself. I couldn’t walk upstairs for the first few weeks, I had to have a little rest halfway, my body had completely deteriorated. The horses really got me back to being fit and being back on the job.”

Early recognition, specialist advice, support and assistance is essential for the very best of rehabilitation.

If you would like to know more about how Brethertons can help you, please contact myself or one of the team today here.