On Monday, August 1, more than 600 veterans arrived in
Pittsburgh for the annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games.
Presented by Paralyzed Veterans of America and the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this multievent sports and rehabilitation
program is for military service veterans who use wheelchairs for sports
competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological
problems. The games, which run from August 1 to August 6, are the largest
annual wheelchair sports event in the world and offer 17 different sports that
promote rehabilitation through rigorous competition.
The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are an outgrowth
of the VA’s historic involvement in wheelchair sports. Wheelchair sports
had their beginning in the aftermath of World War II, when young disabled
veterans began playing wheelchair basketball in VA hospitals throughout the
United States. The first National Veterans Wheelchair Games were held in 1981.
That year, 74 veterans from 14 states competed in sports ranging from table
tennis and billiards, to swimming and weightlifting.
Rules for wheelchair sports are essentially the same as
their stand-up counterparts, with some adaptations made as needed for
wheelchair use. For example, basketball rules are determined by the National
Wheelchair Basketball Association (which follows NCAA basketball rules), with
the wheelchair considered part of the player’s body in ruling physical
Several sports offered at the games have no able-bodied
version, such as the wheelchair slalom, a challenging obstacle course for
wheelchair users. Handcycling, the motorized wheelchair rally and quad rugby,
while similar to able-bodied sports, are also specific to wheelchair users.
For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact
Paralyzed Veterans of America at 800-424-8200, ext. 705, or visit