There are some definite perks to my job. One of the coolest is being able to try out some pretty sweet stuff and blog about it (hi).
So, when renowned wheelchair golfer Anthony Netto (who spent a huge chunk of his own money to create one of the finest stand-up recreation machines made, the Paramobile) came to Minneapolis a couple of days ago to help with a fundraiser for a local boy who was paralyzed last year, I was more than agreeable to his invitation.
He asked if I wanted to try out the machine at a local course (that was hosting a tournament for the Courage Center; a nearby independent living center for people with disabilities). When was the last time you stood up and played a sport? I’ve been so excited to try one of these stand-up and play machines for years now. I wasn’t a serious golfer before my injury (unless making two holes on your step-dad’s one acre property counts).
Anthony brought two of his Paramobiles to Minnesota (they are made at Otto Bock in Germany and cost $19k/each), and the moment I saw the machine being driven out of the golf cart shed I was pumped to get in it (and once I did, I thankfully wasn’t let down). It’s a fairly simple design – it has a very wide powerchair base, but it has two wide front wheels and one equally sized back wheel (so you can drive over the green gently).
To stand up, there is a knee brace and you wear both a chest strap and a lap belt to keep yourself in. You also wear the chest strap looser than you would in a standing frame, so that you can lean forward when do your shot, so it’s in a more natural position. I was a bit worried about my balance at first, but after testing the boundaries of where the chest strap held me in, I quickly saw I was safe (it can’t flip either!).
Anthony forgot the Velcro mittens, so I couldn’t hold the club as tightly as I would’ve liked in my hands, but I got to putt on the green for the first time in 19 years (I wasn’t about to complain or get annoyed that I couldn’t hold the clubs that great). I was standing up. And not only that, I was standing and moving in a forward motion simultaneously. This also hadn’t happened for just as long of a time. Take that, and combine it with the beautiful sunny day we had, and it was one of the most idyllic things I’ve done since my injury.
The Paramobile can be used for a ton of stuff, not just golf. Archery, shooting pool, going to the beach, going through the snow. You don’t fill clunky in it. If anything, you feel like you’re gliding on water as you drive it.
The Paramobile is available in certain locations across the country if you’re interested in trying it out. Or, you can contact Anthony and found a chapter of his foundation, the Stand-Up and Play Foundation, where you live (and get yourself a sponsor so you can purchase one of the Paramobiles).
Did I mention Anthony has no osteoporosis in his legs? Standing, as long as you’re doing something you love, is SO much more effective. PROOF.
Must get one of these babies set-up at a local course next summer for sure (my osteoporosis won’t get the best of me just yet!).
Have you golfed since your injury? How did you get out on the course? Which method do you think is best for wheelchair golf?