Determination

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines determination as a “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.”  In the last Olympics, we saw an excellent example of determination as Michael Phelps completed his quest for eight gold medals in this summer’s Olympic Games.  He set his goals, worked hard, stayed focused, and achieved the goals.

In sports, we often see such great displays of determination.  However, there are many daily examples that we might overlook.  As a father, I have watched my son show incredible determination to overcome many challenges.  He was born with Down Syndrome and his primary challenge has been gross motor skills (crawling, walking, running, etc).  He learned to walk at age 3 and soon after tried to run.  Of course, he fell quite often in the early stages, but he was determined and never gave up.  Now, he can throw a football, kick a soccer ball, or throw a round ball with ease.  He can even hit a wiffle ball when pitched to him.  In fact, he is a more consistent hitter than many professional baseball players – of course, I don’t pitch 100mph fastballs.

As a physical therapist, I have seen outstanding examples of determination from my patients.  Many of them have overcome significant impairments and functional limitations to improve their quality of life.

Some examples include:

– A 73 year old runner who became deconditioned when she stop training to take care of a family member who was ill.  In relatively short time, she worked hard to regain her strength and her ability to race.  The result: successful completion of a 5 mile race.

– An 85 year old overcame a sprained ankle to be able to return to dancing.  The result:  successful return to her line dancing class.

– A man who lost his lower leg in a motorcycle accident, worked very hard to return to riding.  The result: 8 months after his amputation, he was riding a motorcycle again.

Whether you’re an elite athlete or an average person, you can achieve your goals if you have determination.

Bud Ward, MPT, CSCS is a physical therapist, clinic owner, certified strength/conditioning specialist, author, and consultant. He can be reached at www.arundelpt.com.

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