Wounded warrior program uses fencing for therapy

Veterans on the mend gain strength, physical agility from fencing

SAN ANTONIO - Andre Cook, 32, has been undergoing rehabilitation at Fort Sam since being injured in Afghanistan.

A new program there is using the strategy, strength and physical agility required for the sport of fencing as physical therapy.

"I got shot in the leg and I've been through 12 surgeries, physical therapy and I've been participating with this, this has been helping me with my leg," Cook said.

Cook doesn't just like the physical aspects of fencing, he loves the mental strategy involved.

Paralympic Military Coordinator Jennifer Cooper said the injured warriors returning these days are a much younger generation.

"They were physically active before, and so giving them that opportunity to be physically active and show them they can still participate in sports just like they did before their injury is key to their mental and physical well being," Cooper said.

Participant Chris Manegold remembers fencing as an eight-year-old boy. Two decades later, he enjoys it more than ever.

He said fencing utilizes every muscle in the body giving him more mobility.

What he appreciates the most is the camaraderie of a group full of warriors he has so much in common with.

"Whether the injury or illness is the same or not, we're all here to get well, get better and either go back to our unit or go back to civilization," Manegold said.

Cook said the big takeaway for him, friendships that may last a lifetime.


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