• Comment

Grovetown veteran works to compete in paralympics after amputation

Posted: November 8, 2017 - 3:24am
Back | Next
Dr. Lisa Maddox practices at the Newman Tennis Center in Augusta. She hopes to win in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Dr. Lisa Maddox practices at the Newman Tennis Center in Augusta. She hopes to win in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Dr. Lisa Maddox's list of accomplishments did not end with the completion of her career in the Army.

After graduating from West Point in 1989, Maddox went on to become a physical and medical rehab specialist.

"I was actually the first woman from the CSRA to receive an appointment to West Point. And I was in the ninth class of women," Maddox said. "I was in military intelligence, initially, for two years. Then went to med school."

In order to complete her medical school degree, Maddox was allowed to leave the Army to finish her degree before returning.

"Then I went back in and had a total of nine years of obligation to pay back for West Point, and then for the military paying for med school," Maddox said. "So I did a total of nine years active duty."

Today, Maddox is a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Augusta, which she said is often confused with the role of a physical therapist.

"What I do is, I'm the liaison or the medical director," Maddox said. "I help people who (have) had catastrophic illnesses or diseases that have become a condition or lost strength. So the types of patients we typically will provide care to are those who (have) had, like, a stroke and they need rehabilitation."

It's a process Maddox is all to familiar with on a personal level.

In 2006, Maddox had her left leg amputated due to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic pain condition that causes intense pain in the arms, hands, legs or feet.

"The medical community is still at a loss for the exact ideology of why it happens," Maddox said. "Some of the things that predispose people to developing it are previous injuries to a limb. So, in my case, I had multiple surgeries before and ended up with a minor injury that led to the development of that. The name for it is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy."

But her story does not end there.

During her recovery and re-adaptation to life as an amputee, like she helps many of her own patients through, Maddox decided to pursue her passion for playing tennis, a sport that has inspired her since she was a child.

Eight years after her amputation, Maddox, a Grovetown resident, said she started playing wheelchair tennis.

Maddox said she has been a fan of tennis since she was a child, but growing up in Augusta in the late 60s and early 70s, the sport was not readily available to her.

"We tended to play more basketball, baseball, football, that sort of thing, but I was always interested (in tennis) and my older brother was interested in it, too," Maddox said.

"I remember as a child watching John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, all those players," Maddox said. "I used to practice being a ball kid at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. I would run across the dining room, pretending to pick balls up because I really wanted to be involved in tennis."

Today, Maddox participates in 10 to 12 tournaments each year and is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the Women's A division, having earned nearly 16 titles since she began competing. Now, Maddox plans to pursue her dreams of competing and winning the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

But Maddox still says she has her sights set on other goals.

"The other thing I would love to do is to play in the Invictus Games, which is a set of games that Prince Harry from England developed to help active duty and veterans from all over the world who have been injured, either physically or psychological injuries, to able to compete on a world format," Maddox said.

Maddox could be considered an all around athlete having played basketball in college and as a wheelchair sport, but she said she has always come full circle back to tennis.

"I played wheelchair basketball a little while, but, even though I grew up playing basketball and played in college a little bit, wheelchair basketball is a totally different game," Maddox said. "And so tennis is the thing I have been able to fall in love with and I'm very passionate about."

Maddox said due to limited sponsorships for wheelchair tennis players, she has started working with a nonprofit organization to raise funds to continue to travel to tournaments around the country and hopefully to the Paralympics in Tokyo, while keeping her full-time job at the VA Hospital.

"It gets extremely expensive," Maddox said, "When you start talking about airfare to fly and having to pay out-of-pocket for that, and pay for my hotel while I'm up there, it just adds up."

 

  • Comment