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Tuesday, October 22 News

Paramobile assists those with impaired mobility

A unique paramobile that helps individuals living with impaired mobility was recently showcased at Candlewood Valley Country Club in New Milford.

The Paragolfer is an ADA compliant wheelchair that enables individuals to participate in activities they otherwise might not be able to do, such as sports.

Among them, golfing, archery, fitness, basketball, dancing and more.

“It’s also used now in physiotherapy and medical departments, to enhance the rehab process,” said Anthony Netto, who founded the Stand Up and Play Foundation and is an international ambassador for challenged golf.

The foundation is an all-volunteer run 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to “give wheelchair users the chance to stand up and again; to experience the empowerment of looking someone in the eye; to experience the freedom to play sports.”

Netto offered a clinic last Friday, just weeks before Candlewood serves as host for the fourth annual Stand Up and Play golf outing and fundraising campaign Aug. 16.

The outing, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include a 9:30 a.m. shotgun format.

The paramobile isn’t an ordinary wheelchair. With the user strapped in, the seat can be raised and lowered, allowing the user to fully stand up and participate in activities.

The paramobile can also easily navigate gradients of up to 30 degrees and sideways inclinations of about 17 degrees, which comes in handy on the golf course.

Should a limit be exceeded, the paramobile will automatically return to a safe position.

Originally designed for disabled golfers, it has been adapted for other leisure activities.

Netto said the paramobile is utilized in 10 major rehab facilities. He hopes more will discover its benefits.

In addition, several golf courses in the U.S. have them on site to aid golfers. Candlewood, which has three paramobiles, is among a small number of courses in the state to operate them.

Candlewood is also one of the Stand Up and Play chapters in the U.S.

Paul Arneth of Southbury has used the paramobile for three years. He is a regular at Candlewood.

“I was a golfer, sailor and runner,” Arneth said. “All of these were taken away from me (with my diagnosis). I would swim and sit and exercise.”

The paramobile was a game changer.

“This is life changing,” he said, fully standing in the paramobile during the clinic.

“The first day I found out about Candlewood, I put my clubs in the back seat and my wife starting crying,” he said.

“(The paramobile) saved my life,” he said.

More than 5.6 million Americans live with a form of paralysis or spinal cord injury, according to the Stand Up and Play Foundation.

Netto, who is a paraplegic, said the benefits of using the paramobile are vast.

Users can improve “circulation and respiration, reduce muscle spasticity and provide pressure relief, helping to reduce or minimize occurrence of pressure sores,” according to Netto.

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“I haven’t had bed sores in 29 years,” said Netto,

Netto sustained injuries while serving in the South African Defense Force and during an automobile accident, causing major paralysis. In 2000, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

He co-invented the sports wheelchair and founded by the foundation to help others facing challenges as he did.

“In May, I hit 350 yards from a wheelchair,” said Netto, who has been a USGTF Master Golf Teaching Professional since 1999.

Netto spends his time training PGA professionals and veterans on how to use the game of golf as therapy and serves as a consultant for handicapped golfers worldwide.

For more information or to sign up to the August golf outing, call Beth at 860-354-9359, ext. 3 or email beth.ford

@candlewoodvalleygolf.com.

For more information about the foundation, visit www.standupandplay.org or email info@standupandplay.org.

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