Burke Rehabilitation Hospital announces an award of $336,532 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Adaptive Sports Programs for Disabled Veterans and Disabled Members of the Armed Forces, to support the new Burke Rehabilitation Adaptive Sports for Veterans Program (BRAVE). 

Burke’s Adaptive Sports team developed BRAVE as a comprehensive plan for disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces residing in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley (Westchester, Rockland, Orange, and Putnam counties), Bergen County, New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut. The intent of BRAVE is to provide disabled veterans with more equitable access to adaptive sports and recreation opportunities.

“We are deeply committed to bringing adaptive sports opportunities to people who are interested but are without a way or means to pursue these activities. With our knowledge and experience, we are certain we can implement a successful, veteran-focused adaptive sports program to meet the needs of the community. We are honored to give back to those who have given so much for us.”  

— Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Mooyeon Oh-Park, MD, MS

Research using Quality of Life (QOL) indicators has shown that veterans with a myriad of mobility and emotional challenges greatly benefit physically, emotionally, and socially from active engagement in sports and interactive recreations. 

Adaptive Sports Opportunities

The BRAVE Program will offer 13 different sports to veterans and service members, enabling them to participate in sports in which they have an existing interest and ability, and providing opportunities to learn new sports and develop their abilities regardless of physical or emotional status. Participants can successfully engage in all activities with some or no adaptive equipment. Clinics and trainings will take place at multiple sites.

Adaptive sports include:

·         archery                                                            
·         ATV riding 
·         bowling
·         boxing
·         golf 
·         hand cycling
·         hiking 
·         kayaking
·         rock climbing 
·         sailing
·         snow skiing
·         water skiing
·         virtual relaxation/meditation and yoga

“The BRAVE Program showcases a broad selection of sports that will be of interest to both active and more inactive veterans who want to engage with other veterans, challenge themselves, and satisfy physical, mental, and social needs. Each event is adapted with specialized equipment and participatory styles so veterans with almost any type of diagnosis and ability level will be able to successfully participate.”

— Therapeutic Recreation Director Eileen Andreassi

The BRAVE Program staff and Burke Adaptive Sports Team will work collaboratively with Veterans’ Affairs therapists from the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System in Montrose, NY, and Wappingers Falls, NY, to identify veterans who may be interested in the program.

Result of Participant Requests

The design and implementation of this new program is a direct result of participant requests and desires. In early Spring of 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burke’s Adaptive Sports Team conducted a survey of their sports program members to gain insight and to expand upon an already thriving platform.

Funding is allocated for one dedicated Adapted Sports Director and one BRAVE program-dedicated Recreational Therapist who will work closely with Burke’s Sports Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians. Funding also includes the purchase of adaptive sports equipment and transportation for participants. 

Burke has a tradition of supporting and tending to members of the United States Military. During World War I, the hospital treated approximately 2,000 sailors and received the nickname “Burke’s Navy.”  

[Source: Burke Rehabilitation Hospital]