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When Trudy Reynolds had spinal surgery in July, she never thought she'd compete in the 2012 summer games. But thanks to the first-ever Lyndhurst Centre Olympic summer games, Trudy, whose surgery repaired a narrowing of her spine, was riding a bike faster than ever before.
"I felt a surge of energy when I saw those bikes. Once I learned how to move the pedals with my hands, I took off down the path and my recreation therapist had to chase after me," says Trudy.
The Lyndhurst Olympics is the brainchild of Nicole Leong, Recreation Therapist, and Lisa Azuma, an intern, at Toronto Rehab. They saw the summer games as an opportunity to change the rehabilitation routine for patients and build community.
"Our Lyndhurst Olympics expose patients to a new atmosphere outside the hospital. They have a chance to interact with one another in a competitive, challenging and fun setting. It's a good theme, because we all plan to watch the real Olympics together," explains Lisa.
Staff arranged four events: archery, bocce ball, biking and trivia. At each event, staff modified equipment to help patients with limited mobility. The bocce ball event, for example, had an adaptable ramp for patients to slide the ball onto the grass. At the archery event, patients were offered Velcro gloves to help grip the bow.
Since the Olympics, Trudy says the hospital feels like a better place to spend the remaining 40 days of her treatment. "I feel closer to the other patients now. We used to just pass each other in the halls and now we talk. Something about competition brings people closer."
Nicole says all the patients are still challenging each other to re-matches. "We need to settle the rivalry between the first, second and third place teams. Patients don't have to worry because Nicole will make sure the Olympics return to Lyndhurst next year.
- Jessica Verhey