July 8, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
If paralysis has forced you to use a wheelchair to get around, you certainly don’t need us to tell you how drastically your lifestyle is changing, in so many ways. But you don’t need to resign yourself to leading an inactive life with no fun. In fact, you really shouldn’t. There’s still a lot that you can do to stay active, get exercise, and even engage in sports, which will keep you healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Much has been accomplished to make more of these activities available to people with disabilities. Here are some of the options for wheelchair sports that you can participate in:
Bowling is an easy sport to learn, and one that doesn’t require a lot of strength. It also provides some social interaction and competition, by participating in teams and leagues. With some simple adaptations like ball-drop ramps and snap handle balls to help with gripping the ball, bowling has become a viable wheelchair sport. More information about adaptive gear and league play can be found through the American Wheelchair Bowling Organization.
Golf is another game which has been adapted quite successfully to playing while seated. In fact, legislation including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) now now mandates that public places like golf courses provide accessibility to people in wheelchairs. Adaptations such as customized clubs and special carts will help you golfing. More resources about golf as a wheelchair sport are available through the American Disabled Golfers Assocation.
Believe it or not, even a fast-paced game like tennis can actually be done as a wheelchair sport. Moving around the court is exciting, and also provides opportunity for cardiovascular exercise. The rules are basically the same as “stand-up” tennis, except that players are allowed two bounces of the ball instead of only one. With a little practice, wheelchair players can compete well against stand-up players.
Weightlifting doesn’t really require much modification to for those with paralysis. It brings obvious benefits in terms of exercise. It’s also becoming more accepted as a competitive wheelchair sport, and is included in the Paralympics.
The game of billiards has been successfully adapted as a sport for people in wheelchairs. Small changes in the rules, and allowing modified pool cues enable players with physical limitations to compete with event the best standing players. If you’re interested, look into World Disability Billiards and Snooker.
The focus of this piece has really been on recreational wheelchair sports, activities that most people can transition into fairly easily. While these will provide you with good exercise, and in some cases a sense of competition and teamwork, perhaps there’s not enough excitement in the above activities. If that’s the case, and you’re looking for more thrills and adventure, don’t rule out extreme sports. We’ve seen people in wheelchairs successfully participate in skydiving, skating, kiteboarding, and even rugby.