Pros Show Amputees, Disabled They Can Still Golf
Clinic helps rehab patients get back in the swing
ROCKVILLE, MD - (July 1, 2012) - When Bill Haraway, 69, checked into Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland in Rockville in April he had no feeling in his legs from the knees down.
The avid golfer of Frederick thought he'd never play the game again, but Monday he was on the driving range at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville with five other former hospital patients and pros from the Salute Military Golf Association.
"I've made a pretty good recovery, thanks to these ladies and the whole team at Adventist," Haraway said, pointing to two recreational therapists that accompanied the group.
Haraway, who could barely stand when he entered the hospital, walked out of the hospital with the assistance of a walker two weeks later.
He has chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy, a condition that causes swelling of the nerves and loss of strength and sensation, according to PubMed Health, an online publication of the U.S. National Medical Library.
|George Roy, right, a Professional Golf Management student at UMES, shows Bill Haraway, 69, of Frederick, how to tee off with one hand. Photo / Susan Singer-Bart
George Roy, a PGA apprentice working with the golf association, showed the men how to use an adaptive tee and club to put power in their swings. He worked individually with each to adjust their grips and swings.
"There's something about golf," said Roy, a Professional Golf Management student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. "Inside everybody's head, it makes them want to hit a perfect shot."
The association, which was founded to help wounded warriors, uses golf to improve mental and physical health. Playing golf allows patients to get outdoors and enjoy the camaraderie and competition of the game, he said.
The hospital had taken some of the men to play golf while they were still patients, recreational therapist Lisa Mathews said.
"It really gets them back to what they really enjoy doing prior to their illness," recreational therapist Mary Kate Madden said. "It makes a difference getting back to what they enjoy doing."
Gary Mankulish, 59, of Rockville, who was a golf pro, went along on the outing to watch. He suffered a stroke in October that left him completely paralyzed. Now walking with a cane, he was still working on regaining strength in his hands.
"I came out here to see the people who supported me," Mankulish said.
The men playing Monday were recovering from a variety of medical conditions.
"Being able to diagnose your own shots will help you the most," Roy told the golfers.
David Palkas, 54, of Middletown lost his right leg to diabetes 16 months ago and his left leg a year later.
"At one time I was a 15 handicap, now I'm starting from scratch and being humbler about this whole game again," he said.
With the right club and a few adjustments from Roy and association volunteer Chris Bowers, who is a single amputee, Palkas was soon hitting clean shots that soared toward the target.
"Unbelievable," Palkas said.
He plans to play nine holes of golf in two weeks.
Dan Stoltz, 55, of Gaithersburg said he was hitting the ball better Monday than he had before he lost a leg, had a shoulder replaced and had quadruple bypass surgery. After stints in the hospital to recover after each procedure, Stoltz now volunteers there four days a week.
Mathews was touched as she watched her former patients.
"I don't know that words can describe it," she said. "So many of them, when they're in the rehab hospital don't have high expectations of what they'll be able to do."
This article by Susan Singer-Bart was published by the Rockville Patch e-news and is reproduced here with its permission.