Army veteran doctor uses tennis to inspire others to excel

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When Dr. Lisa Maddox was a Girl Scout, she witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. She was moved by the respect, dedication and sacrifices made for the nation; so much so that she applied, and was accepted, to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

After graduation in 1989, Maddox received her commissioned as a military intelligence officer, but had a change of heart and decided, instead, to become a doctor.

While on active duty, Maddox completed medical school at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. Later, she developed a condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic pain condition that lasts longer than six months.

In 2006, the condition forced her to have her left leg amputated above the knee, two years after she had retired.

“The hardest part of my journey has been accepting the fact that things are different. I had multiple joint issues prior to the amputation,” Maddox said. “By missing a leg, it puts a lot of stress on my other joints, causing them to wear more quickly than they would have otherwise.”

Despite the pain and difficulties, she has taken up tennis, in a wheelchair, and has big plans with it.

“I would like to make Team Army for the Department of Defense Warrior Games and go on to compete at the Invictus Games,” said Maddox. “Eventually, I want to make the national wheelchair tennis team and represent the U.S. in the future at the Tennis World Cup and the 2020 Paralympics.”

The busy doctor trains three days a week and has competed in the U.S. Tennis Association Wheelchair Tennis Women’s A Division. She was ranked first last year and has learned to practice her serves while sitting on her bed.

“Apart from making Team Army and Invictus Games, my next goal is to start playing in the women’s open division of the wheelchair tennis professional circuit, which is governed by the International Tennis Federation,” said Maddox.

Through all the difficulties, Maddox has remained thankful for every opportunity — opportunities that keep revealing themselves. Her next opportunities include competing in shooting and hand cycling. She her participation in these events provide a platform to encourage the physical medicine and rehabilitation patients she cares for at Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Hospital in Augusta, Georgia.

“As a veteran who works at a Veteran Administration hospital,” she said, “I feel it’s important to show other veterans who I serve that it is important to stay active, resilient, and pursue what is important to you.” n