The Healthy Athletes program is dedicated to providing health services and education to Special Olympics athletes, and changing the way health systems interact with people with intellectual disabilities. Through free health screenings, training of healthcare professionals, and evaluation of the health status of people with intellectual disabilities, Healthy Athletes has become a powerful public health organization worldwide.
FUNfitness is a physical therapy event that addresses the ongoing health needs of Special Olympics athletes. FUNfitness provides athletes the opportunity to be examined for flexibility of hamstring, calf, shoulder rotator and hip flexor muscles; functional strength of the abdominal and lower extremity muscles, and for balance. During these screenings, physical therapists, related professionals and students offer athletes expert guidance and exercise recommendations to prevent and reduce the risk of injury, and to improve the athletes’ optimal function in sports training and competition.
IMPORTANCE AND IMPACTAt past FUNfitness screenings, we learned that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes in the United States have the following health related concerns:91% have flexibility problems89% have balance problems83% have strength problems
The fitness curriculum was originally developed for Special Olympics Healthy Athletes by the American Physical Therapy Association.
PURPOSE AND GOALSThe tests and measures utilized during FUNfitness are evidence-based, and have reliable data. All tests for flexibility, functional strength, balance and aerobic capacity are designed to minimize the risk of injury in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Education is provided at the end of the screening for athletes, coaches and families to address the areas that need improvement.
Athletes are evaluated through a series of stations that include: flexibility, strength, balance, aerobics, and education.
Athletes and their families receive educational literature, including information illustrating techniques to improve flexibility, functional strength and balance and aerobic condition for sports performance and daily activities.
FUNFITNESS VOLUNTEER MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND AND REQUIREMENTS:• Physical Therapists: Current licensure as a Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant (not Occupational Therapists)• PT Assistants: Student in PT or PT assistants -- (No Chiropractors or personal trainers)