India can be a leader in therapeutic sports: Dr. Himangshu Das
by Ritesh Ranjan, @royret
India has the potential to lead the international body of therapeutic sports, says Dr. Himangshu Das, director of the National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD).
Being a first time organiser of the National Festival on Therapeutic Sports Meet for Persons with Disabilities (Multiple Disabilities) – 2016, Dr. Das said, “For decades, sports for the orthopaedically, visually, hearing, intellectual disability and multiple disabilities group was neglected state-wise and nationally. This is the first time NIEPMD is conducting a national level therapeutic sports event. Such an event has not been conducted even at the international level. Before talking about international level, we need to first set up a national body for it. If we are really serious about this issue, it is high time we pay attention and take it up.”
The aim of the sports meet is to create an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to get the right exposure and grow in a competitive sporting environment. “A thorough understanding of the issues involved and how to address the concerns is paramount for anyone who works with the differently abled. The benefits of sports participation for the disabled are numerous; one is that it provides individuals with special needs valuable social interaction, both with other individuals as well as their peers. This special event includes running, walking, standing, long jump, solo ball throw, assisted walk, ball throw and ball for distance.”
It took more than a year for them to come up with the plan and also complete some formalities to conduct such an event at the national level.
Speaking about the event, Dr. Das said the aim was to target not only intellectual disability but also visual, ortho, neuro, hearing and multiple disabilities. ‘The games are divided into four groups, which include motor training, assisted type, individual and group. Motor training is for those who can mobilize their body, while assisted type is for those who can perform tasks with help. Individual and assisted type participants are divided into subgroups of age and disability. This time, we have made our own rules according to our knowledge, experiments and experiences but we need to work more on this.”
Talking about the challenges of conducting such events, Dr. Das said, “We need to work on many types of games, rules, modification, infrastructure and equipment. Most important is the need for trained escorts to handle the participants with care. This time we have kept 1:1 ratio for the participants of the event. We need medical assistance to handle any scenario.”
Further, “we have to make the public and the government aware about the seriousness of this issue”. He is looking forward to similar state-level events and also conducting the games during winter and summer, and hopes that the Central and State governments will soon constitute bodies for therapeutic sports at the State and national levels. “The government should work on research, innovation, protocols and upgradation of facilities for the games.”
D.r Beulah Indrani, member of Shanti Niti Kendra in the Nilgiris district, says, “In the last 20 years, the ratio of disabled children has increased dramatically. Even now, parents recognise these symptoms in their children very late. Identifying birth-related problems in early stage and providing proper care can help the child live a normal life.”
The two-day national meet was organised at the Scope International Sports Ground, Kovalam, on November 5 and 6. The managing director of Jeppiaar Engineering College, Dr. M. Regina Jeppiar, was present during the valedictory function.