As people, we are capable of unbelievable achievements. What motivates us?

Setting goals – achieving goals

Sports therapy is an important approach in the rehabilitation of people with a spinal cord injury. Targeted sports therapy measures are used with the aim of improving body image and increasing coordination and fitness. Carsten Gugel is a sports therapist at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre. He trains people with a spinal cord injury from as early on as possible during initial rehabilitation, and was also Mirjam Schmidlin’s sports therapist.

The story of Mirjam Schmidlin

“In July 2020 I was looking forward to my long-awaited holidays and to what was due to happen afterwards. In April I’d moved to a new shared apartment and had also handed in my notice at work so that after the holidays I could start work as a therapeutic instructor at two different schools. Everything was sorted out. But it didn't happen like that. On that holiday I had a paragliding accident.

Which meant that, instead, I spent six months in initial rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre. When I came round and heard the diagnosis of paraplegia, I thought: “Is there anything I can still do?” Over time I realised that many things were still possible. I saw it as an opportunity to design my life and my encounters more mindfully. In sports therapy I learnt to overcome obstacles and to practise day-to-day situations in a realistic way. I started to gain confidence in the fact that I would be able to master day-to-day life. That was my path towards independence.”

“Having confidence was my path towards independence.”
Mirjam Schmidlin, paraplegia since 2020

Overview stories Beacons of Hope

Always keep your eyes on the goal

In 2018 and 2019, Manuela Schär took part in six of the world’s largest marathons. In Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City, the Swiss athlete competed against the world’s best wheelchair athletes in the battle to win the marathon series. As the first wheelchair athlete in the history of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, Manuela Schär dominated every single race, thus winning the series.

Podium for winners in a wheelchair

As it is not practicable for wheelchair users to get up onto a winners’ podium, Wheelchair Sport Switzerland, which is part of the Swiss Paraplegics Association, found a solution for the medal ceremony at wheelchair sports competitions. To ensure that the hard-won medals can be awarded with as much style as they are to able-bodied athletes, Wheelchair Sport Switzerland had a winners’ podium with ramps constructed. Each ramp leads to a podium at a different level for first, second and third place. The three levels are reached via ramps with various angles of inclination. The incline is 5.6% for first place, 7.8% for second place, and 3.9% for third place. The ramp is made of aluminium and consists of eleven individual components that are simple to join together. This means that it can be used for wheelchair sports competitions all over Switzerland. In the case of team competitions, it is even possible to fit four wheelchair athletes onto each podium step. The podium was used for the first time at the Junior World Championships in Nottwil in August 2019 and replaced an earlier solution made of wood.


We support people with spinal cord injuries. Throughout their lives.

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