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NEWS | July 5, 2024

Recovery Services to the rescue!

By MaryThrerese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

Ten days, eleven adaptive sports, and more than 200 athletes from the U.S. and Australia made the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Orlando not only memorable but also a source of inspiration for the broader community.

It takes immense dedication to pull these games off—from logistics to coaches to communications and medical. With their unwavering commitment, the Medical Team for Team Army was like a daily cog in the wheel, helping to keep the machine moving.

We found Retired Staff Sgt Gene Calantoc on track day on a table in the medical tent. His teammates nicknamed him "Gene the Machine" at these games! Daniel Rendeiro, a physical therapist from Ft. Cavasos, did his best to keep Gene the Machine moving.

"I'm working on Gene's back. He just finished throwing the discus, which puts a lot of rotational stress on the back, so it took a toll on his mid-back. I will do my best to get the soreness out," said Rendeiro.

Calantoc, a left-leg above-the-knee amputee, participated in seven of the eleven sporting events. Rendeiro emphasized the unique challenges these athletes face at the Warrior Games when we asked about the importance of a robust medical team. "The key is that most folks don't realize how grueling it is here at Warrior Games. An Olympic athlete has one event they specialize in and compete in, and these athletes here are required to specialize in multiple events over a very brief and intense period."

Calantoc went from powerlifting to cycling, then wheelchair rugby, indoor rowing to wheelchair basketball, archery, and field events, all in eight days. "We call it recovery services because we help them recover between events so they can be at their best for the next event," said Rendeiro, underlining the vital role of the medical team in the recovery process.

Calantoc's determination was evident as he expressed his readiness to return to the competition after Rendeiro's help. "I'm feeling amazing because all the physical therapists are out here for us athletes every day. We have so many sports; we must wake up and do it again. Our resilience keeps us going but having them around us gives us hope. Especially if you get injured, they are helping us out here."

The help goes beyond the PT Rubdown. These athletes are continuing to recover and overcome, and it is not lost on this team of professionals who've pledged their support to this fantastic Army team. "That's why we have the medically related staff here, including the healthcare staff, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and physical therapy assistants. Our lead is a Physician's Assistant, and we also have a clinical social worker here for behavioral health. We've got the athletes covered! We want to help them in any area they need," said Rendeiro.

This medical team is always sitting on ready, and Calantoc appreciates them, and the entire support system, for Team Army at the games. He smiles and shares his progress so far. "I got silver in powerlifting, cycling, rowing, and rugby, bronze and silver in archery, and silver in wheelchair basketball." He also won a silver in discus and a bronze in shotput. That's nine medals for the machine!

Medals aside, Calantoc has a message for anyone experiencing a drastic health change. He encourages adaptive sports for physical and mental health: "Go out there and try it; your injury or illness is not the end of your life. Talk to and connect with an athlete to get inspiration. Seeing people better than me pumps me up and makes me want to do better. This mutual support within the athlete community is a powerful motivator. Go find someone better than you and get motivated!"