When a former college basketball player and coach becomes a prosthetist, what does she do with her spare time? Jaclyn Burkeen, a prosthetic resident at the Seattle Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, started an amputee basketball league. No, not wheelchair basketball, she emphasized in an interview with The O&P EDGE-amputee basketball, played standing.
The Eastern Michigan University (EMU) master of science in prosthetics and orthotics (MSPO) graduate had played able-bodied basketball throughout college, and then coached high school players during her time at EMU. When she arrived in Seattle, she recalled thinking, “Why not amputee basketball? I really like basketball, and I want to work with amputees who are either recreational or elite athletes. I want them to stand up and play.”
In January, Burkeen began contacting amputee support groups in the Seattle area and has worked hard to get the word out to even more potential players. She then invited a local television station to come watch a game and scored the group a short on the evening news. She admits that it’s been difficult to attract enough players-their biggest game included seven people, and she sometimes plays herself to even out the teams.
On the league website, she currently lists the meetings as “open gym” times that are open to any amputee over the age of 16, of any gender or skill level.
“Compared to the first time we played, everyone has improved so much,” she said. “And I think they’re having [even] more fun. Some of the people may have been a little bit afraid to do it at first-I have an older lady, who I think is in her late 50s, and she was kind of scared to play with the guys. Now she comes every week and has a great time. Everyone has a great time. They hang out and talk and laugh-it’s a great social event.”
For more information, visit www.amputeebasketball.com