Should preparation for elite sporting participation be included in the rehabilitation process of war-injured veterans?

Chockalingam N, Thomas NB, Duval L.
Prosthet Orthot Int. 2012 Sep;36(3):270-7. doi: 10.1177/0309364612447096.

SOURCE:  Staffordshire University, Stoke on Trent, UK.

BACKGROUND:  Participation in sport and exercise training, while aiding in the reintegration and confidence building of wounded service personnel, also has potential to prepare them for elite sport competition. It is this encouragement of the war injured to use sport and recreational physical activity as a means of rehabilitation back into civilian life, which has become the worldwide phenomenon of Paralympic sport.

OBJECTIVES:  This paper evaluates existing research relating to the incidence of types of war injuries and the use of sport within the rehabilitation process.

STUDY DESIGN:  Literature review.

METHODS:  Initial searches were conducted in the electronic databases EBSCOHost, ScienceDirect and Pubmed using the keywords ‘veterans’ and ‘sport’ or ‘physical activity’. These searches were then supplemented by tracking all key references from the appropriate articles identified. A narrative literature review methodology was employed.

RESULTS:  Although it is clear from the reported literature that further development of available rehabilitation services is necessary to provide the required level of care for the types of mental and physical injuries and the concept of ‘therapeutic recreation’ is becoming popular, there is still a need for the development of specific protocols to identify individuals who can participate and excel in a specific sport at an elite level.

CONCLUSIONS:  Drawing on the US military experience it can be argued that sport in the UK and other parts of the world should be more widely recognized as a component of rehabilitation. This is not just for the role that sport can play as a tool for rehabilitation but also for the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits that participation in elite sport can offer.