Disabled Hockey is for everyBODY

It's easy to assume that hockey, an often bruising game of speed and finesse, is only for the able-bodied and the able-minded. But Disabled hockey programs sponsored by USA Hockey across the nation are proving that the sport is for everyBODY. Check out these USA Hockey-sanctioned programs that help athletes of all abilities find their way into the game.

American Amputee Hockey Association

The American Amputee Hockey Association (AAHA) is a non-profit sports organization founded in 2000 to develop opportunities for amputee and other disabled athletes to learn and play competitive hockey. Efforts to organize the sport of amputee hockey began when two people put their heads together: Dr. Mark Pitkin, founder of the Institute for Prosthetic Rehabilitation of Landmine Survivors at Tufts University and native of St. Petersburg, Russia, and Dr. David Crandell, who specializes in working with disabled athletes. Pitkin was seeking ways to rehabilitate amputees through sport, and Crandell suggested he arrange an ice hockey team where participants would play upright on their prostheses.

Amputee Hockey is identical to typical amateur ice hockey, with the notable exception that the athletes are missing one or more of their upper or lower extremities.  Competing with other amputees helps to increase self-esteem through participation in a fast-paced, exciting sport on a "level playing field", the hockey rink.  Our motto "put your disability on ice" is designed to inspire amputees and other athletes to look beyond impairment and disability toward participation and improved performance in a competitive team sport.

The organization promotes a fun and safe environment and serves athletes ranging in age and gender. AAHA is working to grow the sport on national and international levels and is leading the international effort to make Standing (Amputee) Hockey a Winter Paralympic Sport.

For more information, please visit  www.amputeehockey.org.

American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association

Founded in 1973. The American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA) is one of the leading sports organizations in the United States serving hearing impaired athletes.  AHIHA's mission is to instill confidence and self esteem in these individuals - many of whom find it difficult to participate in regular athletic programs because of their hearing disability.  

Each summer, AHIHA overcomes this by hosting a unique week-long hockey camp designed especially for these athletes. The Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired supports 80 athletes of various skill levels and is named after Stan Mikita, one of the the co-founders of AHIHA and a member of the National Hockey League's Hall of Fame.

A not-for-profit organization that is based in Chicago, AHIHA also assists the hearing impaired community in other ways, such as helping players obtain hearing aids and speech, auditory and language therapy. Over the years, AHIHA has made a big difference in many people's lives.

For more information, please visit www.ahiha.org

Sled Hockey

Ice sled (sledge) hockey was invented at a Stockholm, Sweden rehabilitation center in the early 1960s by a group of Swedes who, despite their physical impairment, wanted to continue playing hockey.

Sledge hockey, as it's known outside the U.S., made its way to the States in the late-1980s and has been a fixture on the Paralympic scene since 1994.

The players who are registered with USA Hockey are just like all hockey players who don gear and take the ice, with a few exceptions.

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Special Hockey

Special Hockey Programs have been established in over 14 cities in the United States. The goal of Special Hockey is to give people with physical and Developmental Disabilities the chance to play the sport of Ice Hockey in an environment which is adapted to the level of ability which the athletes are bale to participate.

Special Hockey exists for the enrichment of the athlete with a developmental disability. In addition to physical hockey skills, the program emphasizes the development of desirable individual characteristics such as dependability, self-reliance, concentration, willingness to share and personal accountability. The game of hockey is used by Special Hockey to develop within each player the characteristics that will help the player to be more successful both inside and outside a hockey environment.

For more information, please visit www.americanspecialhockey.org