Thanks to a donation from a patient, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network reports in a news release that it has established the Kelley Adaptive Sports Research Institute.

Cheri Blauwet, MD, will serve as director of the Institute, which seeks to become the pre-eminent source of data and information on adaptive sports programs, according to the release.

Blauwet, the release continues, is an instructor at Harvard Medical School, staff physician at Spaulding and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a participant in multiple Paralympics and Boston Marathon Wheelchair division events.

On September 12, 2011, Jamie Bernis of Concord, Mass—who donated the funds for the new Institute—suffered a stroke on her right side, which resulted in 100% paralysis from the waist down and the loss of almost all use of her right arm, the release explains.

“At Spaulding I was wrapped in a blanket of support, which gave me the inspiration to keep progressing,” Bernis shares in the release regarding her time spent at Spaulding.

The release explains that she learned to ride a bike again in the Dr Charles H. Weingarten Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program and participated in Spaulding’s Adaptive Skiing program. Over time, she built her strength and confidence while learning new ways to run, which strengthened her right leg and helped enable her to drive a car again. As her independence improved, she was even able to participate in a favorite pastime—hiking—again.

“For years, participants, families, and caregivers have seen the clear benefits of adaptive sports in providing recreation as well as improving function and confidence,” Blauwet says regarding the Institute’s goal.

Bernis concurs from her own experience.

“I am extremely proud to support research to show the benefits of adaptive sports for participants. I know how much these programs were a benefit to me, and I am excited to be able to provide this for others in the future,” she says.

Blauwet shares in the release that, at the Institute, she plans to initiate two research studies in the next year looking into clinical interventions and activities related to adaptive sports.

“I believe we will empower clinicians to improve the health and well-being of the community with disabilities. These individuals experience a disproportionate level of obesity and secondary health conditions due to physical inactivity and isolation,” Blauwet says.

Her overall goal, according to the release, is to increase the data and findings available for clinicians so they could begin to find ways to use adaptive sports as a standard part of rehabilitative care.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is a group of hospitals, long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and outpatient sites throughout the East Coast.

[Source: Spaulding Rehabilitation Network]