Golfers with Disabilities Staying in the Game

Last weekend in Southampton, at the Shinnecock golf course, fans from all over the world came to watch  the PGA US Open, a long running and prestigious golf tournament. Golf pros showed their intricate skills, and demonstrated what it takes to compete among the pros. But who would have thought that two of the worlds greatest golfers suffer from a chronic illnesses? With the US Open in the global spotlight of sports, we heard the astonishing and inspirational story of Phil Mickelson, and his experience with psoriatic arthritis. Among other pro golfers,  youngster Morgan Hoffmann, suffers from muscular dystrophy. We want to share the stories of these two resilient athletes with you.

Mickelson at 48-years-old often places an emphasis on how lucky he has felt, being able able to pursue his passion through his career. In preparation for the 2010 US Open, Mickelson noticed a pain in his ankle that made it difficult for him to walk, and a stiffness in his right wrist that resembled a sprain[1]. He initially believed that the pain he was experiencing was the result of decades playing his sport. He described the discomfort to be so severe that he could hardly get out of bed. In the week following the tournament, he received the diagnosis that would change his life forever. For a golfer, psoriatic arthritis is extremely debilitating as it causes painful swelling in joints, one or more of the fingers or toes, aches in and around the feet and ankles (especially at the back of the heel or the sole of the foot), and pain in the lower back, above the tailbone.
In the months in between his diagnosis and when he resumed playing golf, Mickelson may have turned to medications such as Leflunomide, Methotrexate and Sulfasalazine which are antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS) and Adalimumab (Humira), Etanercept (Enbrel), or Infliximab (Remicade) which are new medications that block an inflammatory protein called the tumor necrosis factor (TNF).  He may have also been prescribed steroid medications that helped to reduce inflammation. In addition to these medications, he would have been advised to rest as much as possible and go through intensive physical therapy. Living a life devoid of pain, let alone remaining a professional athlete, seemed relatively impossible.
However, despite the difficulties he had with incorporating this intense treatment into his everyday life, Mickelson credits his success to his determined, positive attitude and the immense support of his loved ones.  Incredibly, eight years later, with the help of modern medicine and a healthy mindset, Mickelson is still playing golf! He participated in the 2018 US Open in Reboundwear’s hometown of Southampton, New York just days ago!
Morgan Hoffman, two decades younger than Mickelson, also struggles with a chronic muscular disease. In 2016, Hoffman was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy (FSHD), a genetic muscle disorder in which ones muscles, specifically in the face, shoulder blades and upper arms slowly deteriorate[2]. Those affected by this type of muscular dystrophy usually are able to live full lives, but Hoffmann’s success as a professional golfer living with this disease is exceptional. He didn’t let  his diagnosis deter him from his dreams. Instead, he persevered and accomplished more than he could ever have imagined. He is not only an exceptional golf pro, but also an active philanthropist towards muscular dystrophy and other physical ailments.
Through the Morgan Hoffmann Foundation, he hopes to create the supportive environment needed to best treat muscular dystrophy. While the world searches for the cure, Hoffmann has taken the initiative to establish a health and wellness center that is fully equipped with doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, and trainers in order to create a drive to better their health, body, and mind.[4]
As top athletes of our time, Hoffman and Mickelson show us how keeping a positive mindset, and collaborative physical therapy can really make a huge difference in the face of chronic illnesses.   




By Cara Munn, Manzi Burns and Hazel Hutchins

 

[1]https://www.enbrel.com/psoriatic-arthritis/phil-mickelsons-story

[2]https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/09/phil-mickelsons-psoriatic-arthritis-explained.html

[3]https://www.mda.org/disease/facioscapulohumeral-muscular-dystrophy

[4]https://morganhoffmann.org/mission/#vision




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