The Adaptive Sports Medicine Program

Athlete in Wheelchair

A joint venture from the Departments of Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers children, adolescents and young adults with physical disabilities a host of tailored resources to help them enter and excel at athletics.

A specialized resource for young athletes with physical disabilities

Now, young athletes with physical disabilities can see a physician formally trained and board-certified in both sports medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation. Jonathan Napolitano, MD, leads the Adaptive Sports Medicine Program.

Dr. Napolitano has a specialized understanding of musculoskeletal health, amputee gait biomechanics and the common stress and overuse injuries facing children with physical disabilities. He utilizes state-of-the-art technology, such as 3-D motion analysis, to dynamically assess anatomy and evaluate injuries.

What to expect when you visit the Adaptive Sports Medicine Clinic

Appointments at the clinic may include:

  • Check-in and a health history taken by an athletic trainer
  • A thorough physical exam or assessment by Dr. Napolitano
  • Additional performance, imaging or motion studies as scheduled
  • Creation and discussion of a customized treatment or athletic training plan
  • Appropriate referrals to additional adaptive medicine resources at Nationwide Children’s or in the community
  • Initiation of a rehabilitation or athletic performance plan with an athletic trainer
  • Training for any at-home therapy or exercise that is recommended
  • Sports nutrition counseling

Who can be seen at the clinic?

The Adaptive Sports Medicine Program provides an individualized treatment experience for each and every patient. Our physicians and staff are trained to treat injuries, pain and functional problems and to provide athletic training for youth with a range of physical disabilities, including:

  • Congenital or acquired amputations
  • Limb deformities
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Combinations of intellectual and physical impairment
  • Other conditions, such as muscular dystrophy

The importance of getting and staying active

Physical activity can offer benefits to every young person, but exercise may be especially valuable for youth with physical disabilities. Appropriate functional accommodations, expert care in case of injury, and access to specialized training can help physically disabled youth confidently and comfortably take part in a wide range of activities.

Participation in sports offers the chance to:

  • lower body mass index
  • improve self-esteem
  • reduce depression
  • improve social skills and relationships
  • help build a long-term resource network
  • improve long-term heart and lung health
  • develop skills such as sportsmanship, teambuilding, leadership and resilience

Athletes of all skill levels, as well as those with no prior participation in sports, are welcome to schedule an assessment with the Adaptive Sports Medicine Program.

Other adaptive medicine resources at Nationwide Children’s

Patients of the Adaptive Sports Medicine Program also have access to all of the program’s extended resources, including:

  • The Amputee Clinic
  • Play Strong
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Sports Performance Training
  • Biomechanical Video Analysis
  • Prosthetics and Orthotics
  • The Honda Center for Gait Analysis and Mobility Enhancement (GAME)
  • The Center for Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction
  • The Section of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation