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“It gives them purpose in life again:” Therapy for injured veterans involves getting out on the water

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Rehabilitation can take many forms -- physical therapy, counseling, lifting weights -- but for veterans with war injuries, traditional rehabilitation may not work. Could water be the answer?

When Terrence Green retired from the Army, his injuries came with him into retirement.

"I wouldn't go outside. I was afraid. I Have PTSD and TBI - traumatic brain injury," Green said.

In 2003, a car crash left Green paralyzed.

"I'm a quadriplegic. I`m what they call a high-functioning quad, because I can do this -- but from here, from the middle of my chest down, there`s very little feeling," Green said.

Despite the challenges life has given him, Green has found a way to paddle back.

Ken Braband is the co-leader of Milwaukee's chapter of "Team River Runner" -- a group devoted to rehabilitating injured veterans.

"You see all these wheelchairs lined up along the shoreline because, you know, all those guys are out in boats then and you can`t tell which ones are handicapped or may have a disability and those that are just volunteers," Braband said.

The group uses specialized equipment designed for people with physical limitations. That equipment helps these injured veterans get out on the water.

"A lot of it is all part of the healing process.  Just the act of kayaking is something very different than maybe the kind of rehabilitation that a lot of veterans have been going through," Braband said.

Braband and his crew don't stop with the basics.

"One of the things that we`re trying to do with these guys is take them to the next level, no matter what they want to accomplish and for some of these guys that`s moving up to white water," Braband said.

Once a year the group takes a trip to Whitewater Park in Wausau to put their skills to the test. It's all in the name of rehabilitation, and it seems to be working.

"As long as I`ve been doing this, I started losing weight and I started getting a little bit of feeling back in my cheeks and the top of my thighs.  I started getting some good feeling," Green said.

"It gives them a purpose in life again, too.  Once people realize that this is something, this is a skill that they can build, it really sets a goal out for them, and it also bring back the camaraderie and the teamwork that a lot of them are missing," Braband said.

"Team River Runner" is open to veterans of all generations and is funded entirely through donations.

CLICK HERE to visit Team River Runner's website.

CLICK HERE to visit Team River Runner's Facebook page.

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