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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Clinic gives experience of a lifetime

by Dawn Brazell
Public Relations

A picket fence is a good thing, especially for people learning to water ski the first time, despite challenging disabilities.
The picket fence of waving human hands means safety. It means success. It means the participants were brave enough to try something new.

Physical and occupational therapy students put up a picket fence to catch incoming skiers who are participating in the Adaptive Water Sports Clinic, sponsored by Anchors Away and Achieving Wheelchair Equality. For information on Anchors Away, visit or AWE, visit
The bravery comes in part from the waving hands of MUSC volunteers—physical and occupational therapy students—who are waiting in the waves to catch incoming skiers to make sure they have safe landings. Sara Kraft, DPT, said it’s an incredible experience for all the participants.
About 30 physical therapy students and two faculty members, Kraft, and Noelle Moreau, Ph.D., volunteered at the Adaptive Water Sports Clinic. MUSC occupational therapists also assisted. The clinic, which was held on June 19 and 20 at Lion’s Beach in Moncks Corner, is hosted by Anchors Away and Achieving Wheelchair Equality (AWE).
Kraft said the students get the experience of working with clients with all kinds of disabilities, teaching them how to water ski, jet ski and kayak. “They did it all. I trained them on Saturday, and then on Sunday, it was all their show. They lifted the patients and did the water tests. It was a great experience to see just what people in wheelchairs can do, and to be able to help them.”
Physical therapy student Matthew Dobson said the clinic was one of the highlights of his experiences at MUSC. “It was amazing to have the chance to see people getting to ski who normally wouldn’t have the chance. I think what impacted me the most was all the smiles that I got to see,” he said. “As soon as someone gets up on the ski, the biggest smile you’ll see spreads across their face.”
He had one participant tell him that because of the experience, she was inspired to go out and try other things. He and his wife, Katie, also were able to help a deaf participant since they knew sign language from their years of volunteer work at Camp Sertoma. They helped him get measured for skiing, and to do the preparation work in the water.
“We were able to make sure that he was fine and understood everything that was going on. Katie also went in the boat so that she could communicate with him while he was skiing,” he said. “Having that skill was very helpful, though I don’t think that anyone needed to know American Sign Language to see that he had fun when he got back from skiing.”
Each year the event has grown. Kraft said the participants get to connect with other people with similar disabilities and form therapeutic relationships.
“I’ve seen many people come out of their shells at that clinic. It also opens their eyes to what is possible.”
Kraft said she loves that MUSC participates in the program because it’s a way to give back to AWE. AWE volunteers give hours of their time teaching  MUSC students practical skills, and hosting a sports clinic.
The students get the chance to get in wheelchairs and play various sports, being taught by people who are wheelchair-bound.
Kraft said that the AWE volunteers do so much for MUSC. “I think it’s really great that we reciprocate by coming out there and helping them with an activity. It’s a win-win for all parties.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

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