Basketball was one of the first sports developed for wheelchair users. There are fun leagues as well as competitive teams located throughout the United States. For more information, contact the National Wheelchair Basketball Association at www.nwba.org.
Golf is an extremely accessible game for the SCI survivor with upper body mobility. In addition to the special carts and adaptive equipment that’s now available, new additions to the Americans with Disabilities Act means that all golf courses must make accommodations to the disabled. For more information contact the United States Golf Association, www.usga.org.
Hand cycling is a terrific way for SCI survivors to get their hearts pumping! Not only is it great for fitness, it’s a great way for survivors to exercise and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Cycles can be attached to the front of a manual wheelchair, or “trikes,” three-wheeled, multi-gear bikes designed for the disabled cyclist, are also available for those who are more serious. Some hand cyclists enjoy the sport so much they become serious competitors. For those who want to take this sport to the limit, hand cycling is included in the Paralympics. For more information, contact the United States Hand Cycling Federation at www.ushf.org.
There are very few difference between traditional hockey and the sled hockey played by those who are disabled. The puck and pads are the same, as is the rules of the game and the size of the playing surface. Players are seated on sleds, which have hockey blades attached to the bottom. They propel themselves forward by using the picks at the end of two short hockey sticks. Just like traditional hockey, there’s lots of checking and the competition can get intense. This sport is included in the Paralympics. For more information contact USA Hockey, www.usahockey.com.
As horseback riding becomes more and more touted for it’s therapeutic benefits, adaptive horseback riding stables are cropping up all around the United States. Horseback riding provides survivor with a sense of responsibility and self-confidence, while also improving things like balance and strength. For more information contact the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, www.narha.org.
Improvements in adaptive technology have made skiing possible for a wide variety of SCI survivors. A mono-ski is available for those with good upper body strength and core balance. This piece of equipment comprises a seat attached to one ski, and two poles. The mono-ski is used in a way that is similar to traditional skis, where the skier uses his body to turn and carve. Bi-skis are similar to mono-skis, but there are two skis involved instead of one. This type of ski is best used for people with difficulty balancing. Finally, the sit-ski is similar to a sled, and is the ski of choice for those with significant limitations. The sit-ski can be maneuvered with leaning and by using the two short poles that are attached. However, even those without hand mobility can enjoy the sit-ski, as it can be pulled by an instructor. For more information on adaptive ski programs and equipment, contact the National Sports Center for the Disabled, www.nscd.org.
Wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in America. That may be because the court and the equipment don’t require modification, and the rules of the game are the same as in traditional tennis. The only difference is that the ball is allowed to bounce twice, instead of once. Wheelchair tennis is great for building strength, cardiovascular fitness, and dexterity, and can be enjoyed by SCI survivors and their non-disabled friends at the same time. Good wheelchair players can give standing players a match! For more information, contact the United States Tennis Association at www.usta.com and click on the “Wheelchair” link.