A study from the University of Houston’s Department of Health and Human Performance found that frequent participation in wheelchair rugby leads to lower levels of depression and stress among people with spinal cord injuries. Study participants displayed fewer symptoms of psychological distress, and those who played two or more times per week presented the lowest levels of depression, compared to those who played less often.
The study’s lead author pointed out that, because of its unique nature, rugby encourages “camaraderie where participants can come together in a safe environment with people just like them.” She adds that teammates are like a family, and help each other both with the game and with other life skills.
Although enrolling in wheelchair sports is expensive, the study found that participants can still benefit from playing any sport twice a week. “We met men who were totally transformed by playing the sport,” said a study researcher. Steve is a true example of the benefits gained from playing wheelchair sports. During his senior year in high school, Steve sustained a spinal cord injury, but even after his injury he resolved to remain active. He helped start the TIRR Texans, the only U.S. Quad Rugby Association team in Houston, where he is currently a player and coach.
“Through this sport, I was introduced to what I was capable of achieving in life—from watching and learning from other guys that were living life fully. I am physically stronger, more independent and as competitive as ever.”
Steve credits wheelchair rugby with his achievements both on and off the court, and says it shaped his perseverance in all aspects of his life.
“I love life and I live it to the fullest. It’s in large part because of what I have learned from playing wheelchair rugby.”
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