Paralympic Athletes Making News in Pyeongchang

Physical therapy and other treatments help athletes strive for gold

The Paralympic Games are underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and one American athlete is making a charge toward history with the aid of physical therapy.

Amy Purdy, who initially gained fame with her bronze-medal winning performance at the Sochi Games in 2014, took home a silver medal in this year’s snowboard cross and will compete Friday in the banked slalom event.

Purdy, who had both legs amputated below the knee at the age of 19 after contracting bacterial meningitis, was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis in the lead-up to the 2018 Games. She also dealt with brachial neuritis, causing numbness, weakness and muscle atrophy in her arms.

Physical therapy was critical to Purdy’s recovery and getting her prepared to compete this month.

Purdy is the co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit dedicated to helping people with physical challenges find sporting activities. She hopes her success will bring the Paralympic Games the same attention as the Olympics.

“I personally describe the Paralympics as the adaptive division of the Olympic Games,” she said. “So that people don’t see it as such a separate sporting event. It’s the athletes, too; I think it’s educating people on what the Paralympics are and that we work as hard as every other Olympian.”


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