The Bethesda cycling program at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) is uplifting the spirits of service members who are receiving treatment for combat wounds and other injuries at the facility.
A feature on the Navy website shared that the cycling program, which aims to foster resiliency, provide symptom relief, and uplift self-esteem, is now benefitting 20 service members. Lt. Cmdr. Ann Williams, co-chair for the cycling program and assistant department head of the main operating room at NNMC, however, is hopeful that more service members will participate in the program, describing it as “very therapeutic.”
Among the activities that participating service members engage in as part of the program are daily rides around the community, as well as involvement in national and international cycling events, according to Lt. Cmdr. Williams. Their most recent involvement was riding a portion of the sixth stage in the Tour de France.
Lt. Cmdr. Williams shared further that wounded warriors who engage in cycling may recover faster, and help them “return to a sense of normalcy.” Those who participated in the program, Williams said, now have reduced or been taken off their medications.
In addition to the physical aspects of recovery, the cycling program is also part of the new Resiliency and Psychological Health Program of the NNMC. Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Dittrich, co-chair for the cycling program and service chief for Behavioral Health at NNMC, shared that the new health program covers mental health services from Walter Reed and Bethesda.
She said that the program “helps them address a lot of their problems, [like] being somewhat fearful of crowds. It also lets them socialize with other people who have been through similar [experiences]. It also gives them something to strive for.”