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2016-2017 Anesthesiology Fellow Vandy Gaffney, MD, and anesthesiologist William Urmey, MD, review ultrasound-guided block placement

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Adaptive Sports Academy

Encouraging mobility and independence

The Adaptive Sports Academy organizes local, regional and national adaptive programs for kids and teens facing a range of disabilities. These events help patients realize new skills and interests, reinforce therapy goals and allow patients to socialize with other patients. Examples of past Academy events include skiing, surfing and indoor rock climbing. These experiences encourage mobility and independence and often result in increased self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation to live fuller, more active lives.

Meet the Team

Executive Directors

  • John Denneen, MSPT
  • Lisa Ipp, MD

Program Director

  • Peyton Katz, CCLS
  • Jessica Parise, CCLS

Medical Directors

  • Karen Onel, MD
  • David M. Scher, MD
  • Roger F. Widmann, MD

Group photo at an adaptive sports skiing event.


Executive Leadership Board

  • John Blanco, MD
  • Emil Calcano
  • JeMe Cioppa-Mosca, PT
  • Deborah Corradi-Scalise, DPT
  • Michael Coulston, Esq.
  • Emily Dodwell, MD
  • Shevaun Doyle, MD
  • Peter Fabricant, MD
  • Daniel Green, MD
  • Jessica Podell
  • Ernest Sink, MD

For Participants

Photo of a child riding a horse.

Photo of a child surfing.

Photo of a teen skiing.

About the Program

The Adaptive Sports Academy gives our patients an opportunity to develop skills and interests while promoting mobility and activity. The events reinforce therapy goals by engaging participants in new activities and requiring them to use their bodies in different ways. In addition to the physical benefits of participation, patients also experience increased self-confidence and independence following Academy trips. Often, once participants realize they are capable of and enjoy the sports and activities, they are encouraged to continue their involvement long after the initial event. The outings also serve as a unique opportunity for kids to socialize with other patients, and connections are often cultivated between families who stay in contact long after the event ends.


Patients who are eligible for these experiences are those who require adaptations to equipment to participate and often need support of a trained guide to safely engage. Patients with diagnoses of cerebral palsy, limb amputation and significant limb length discrepancy make up the majority of our referrals. Participants must be active HSS patients who are cleared to participate by their HSS physician.

Past Events

  • Skiing
  • Surfing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Indoor Rock Climbing
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Sports Skills Clinic

Participant Feedback

Patient Feedback:

  • "[The instructors] made me very happy to be able to be like other kids without disabilities."
  • "We had a great time and we built our confidence that we can do anything."
  • "It's a great opportunity to make new friends and find out passion in these events and mostly to have fun and show other we can do what they can do we are no different."

Parent Feedback:

  • "Life-changing."
  • "It is important to widen the narrow comfort zones for these children. Many of these kids have very structured lives with doctors and therapists appointments. It is amazing for them to feel totally free on a day like this when they can feel like they are flying!"
  • "When you offer this to him, it gives him the opportunity to feel like he can do anything. It helps with his self-esteem and his self-confidence and he can take that with him when he leaves here."



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