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Surfing as a Therapy Treatment?

The fact that surfing feels awesome, makes one go beyond what deemed possible and just might be the best stress release in the universe should not be any big news for any surfer. In recent years however surfing has also gotten more and more attention as a therapy treatment to various diseases and special needs.

Some of these medical applications of surfing include treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Polytrauma, Autism, Cystic Fibrosis and Depression. As surfing is not only fun and camaraderie to participants, it also boosts self-esteem through the sense of accomplishment while at the same time providing a feeling of serenity.  Other advantages of surfing are the combination of physical exercise and the saline mist, that especially helps people with cystic fibrosis breaking up and releasing the excess muck building up in their lungs, and the ocean’s power to provide stress release by offering a remedy from sensory overload often experienced by people suffering from autism.

Surfing’s latest ‘miracle’ takes form in 8-year old Madison Eddy from Cornwall. Madi, as she is called by her family and friends, was born premature with just 23 weeks and several severe disabilities including a bleed on her brain, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Unable to learn how to walk unaided she spent the first eight years of her life in a wheelchair. Her foster and later adoptive parents however encouraged her to live her life as fully as possible, enrolling her in a mainstream school and always looking for activities that she could take part in. Eventually this brought them in contact with surfing and The Wave Project. The Wave Project is a surfing charity which provides children facing exceptional disadvantages with specially suited surf courses and a surf club for everyone having completed one of their courses.

Madi’s progress during the charity’s six-week course is astonishing. She went from building up confidence in the water in a specially adapted beach wheelchair in week one to sitting on a surfboard in week two to actually surfing waves standing up while being held by a volunteer by week six. But the real surprise came when the course was over. “We were at home and I was holding her under her arms, but she suddenly went forward on her own, fumbling towards the settee. She only took about two or three steps, but it was the first time she had ever walked on her own,” her mother Margaret explains. From then on Madi took every chance to show off her new ability, increasing the number of independent steps with each try.

Madi’s parents believe that her ability to walk came about by the increased confidence she got through surfing. “The difference was confidence. Knowing that she could get up on that surf board, the same as everybody else, gave her the confidence to walk. I don’t think she ever thought she could go on the sea, let alone go surfing. But now she has realised that she can do whatever she puts her mind to,” Margaret states.

We at Atlantik Surf are wishing Madi a great further development and all the fun in the world practicing the best sport that has ever existed!

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