Rich O’Brien’s training is in Sports Psychology and Exercise Science. He was a long-time college golf coach and has taught over 600 golfers how to play golf. I guess once you are a coach you are always a coach.
Eight years ago he suffered catastrophic, life-threatening injuries after being ejected from a golf cart. His long road to recovery began from what should have been his deathbed and included a dangerous addiction to prescription painkillers, an ongoing battle with Post Traumatic Stress, and 12,000 hours of rehabilitation. A big part of his recovery was golf therapy in which he figured out how to play golf again despite his numerous injuries.
Following his miraculous recovery, Fred Gutierrez, a friend from church, asked Rich to try to teach him how to play golf despite Fred being a hemiplegic (paralyzed on the entire left side of his body from the top of his head to the bottom of his foot). Working together the two men were able to greatly improve the quality of Fred’s life. The story of the Partially Paralyzed Golfer was chronicled on Golf Channel by Al Tays for the Challenged Tour series.
The story also caught the attention of the Senior Director of PGA REACH foundation who oversees the PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program. After meeting with them in the spring of 2015, he asked them to champion the efforts to establish a chapter in Charleston. With the help of PGA Professional, Perry Green, as the lead instructor, the PGA HOPE Charleston program began with humble beginnings in the Summer of 2015 with a handful of participants, but as word spread among veterans of the golf therapy program it has quickly grown into one of the largest programs in the country with sixty veterans participating. The pair’s involvement went beyond helping to establish the program as Rich became the program’s administrator and a coach, while Fred has worked tirelessly with the veterans to teach them adaptive golf. They were also recently honored when the PGA recently called the PGA HOPE Charleston Chapter its’ model program for other programs to follow. With the program, they have already seen many lives completely turned around through participation in the program and look forward to being able to help many more veterans improve their quality of life.
He realized that there were tens of millions of former golfers that became disabled and millions of others that wanted to learn how to play golf despite an injury, illness, or challenge. Being in a unique position, he began a Help Us Help Them awareness campaign within the golf industry to show the need for more golf instructors to learn how to instruct these players that want to play despite what is often called a disability. As part of that awareness campaign, he started a group called Golf Therapy Using Golf to Overcome Injuries, Illnesses, and Challenges on Facebook which has become very popular with over 5,600 people.
Rich recently finished writing a book with Fred Gutierrez and Linda Falter called Half Paralyzed, Twice Strong which chronicles their amazing journey and how faith, friendship, acupuncture, and golf combined to save their lives. He is beginning the process of ramping up for the release of the book which will be available on Amazon early in 2017. For more details, click on the link provided.
Of special concern for Rich is the nearly eight million Americans currently suffer from Post Traumatic Stress including military veterans, first responders, victims of sexual abuse, and individuals that have been in traumatic accidents. These individuals typically experience symptoms associated with the condition that includes numerous daytime flashbacks and nightmares that completely disrupt their sleep. In fact, the condition typically makes it virtually impossible to get quality sleep; and as a result, many of them resort to drugs and alcohol as an escape. Suicide is also an all-too-common outcome as possibly as many as 50 people commit suicide every day as a result of Post Traumatic Stress.
Rich has become an advocate for these individuals and is a tireless promoter of tools that can be used to alleviate the negative effects of his PTSD. The first tool he found was periodic acupuncture treatments which helped him drain negative energy. Golf Therapy became the second tool for many because the social aspects of the game help them reintegrate into society. Recently, Rich helped discover an exciting tool called the PTSD Relief Glasses that can help individuals with Post Traumatic Stress calm the hot reactor brain waves associated with the condition.