Adapted Sports for People Living with Disabilities

Adapted Sports for People Living with Disabilities

a man on a wheelchairPeople with disabilities can participate in various kinds of adapted sports and recreation programs that improve overall health and wellness. These sports often require particular rule or equipment modifications. For example, uses ultra-light materials on sport wheelchairs to allow individuals living with a disability to stay active.

Before engaging in adapted sports, individuals living with disabilities should check with their physical therapist (PT) or physician to ensure they are healthy enough for exercise. A PT can determine modifications to be made to wheelchair equipment and give advice on which activities and what amounts of physical activity are within the limits of safety.

Benefits of Adapted Sports

Adapted sports provide an opportunity for people with disabilities to stay physically active, improve overall fitness, and receive social benefits. Activity can help strengthen the heart, build strong muscles and bones, and improve coordination.

More than the clear physical benefits, engaging in adapted sports can allow people with disabilities to take a break from solo workouts and form social networks. Teammates on the court can become teammates off the court, serving as resources for each other when dealing with both general and disability-related challenges. Athletes can gain social capital from sports experiences and feel more closely connected to the community.

Individuals with disabilities can also use adapted sports for personal rehabilitation purposes. They can combat the possible loss of confidence and depression stemming from the reality of living with a disability. Sports offers an opportunity for them to renew their self-confidence and cultivate a positive identity. Athletes can instill self-discipline, a competitive spirit, and a sense of comradeship in themselves.

Types of Adapted Sports

Sports that can be adapted for people with disabilities include cycling, golf, horseback riding, paddle sports, volleyball, snow skiing, swimming, tennis, and basketball. Adapted sports often involve modifying different pieces of equipment to fit particular disabilities. Paddling sports like canoeing, kayaking rowing, and rafting, for instance, often have simple adaptations for positioning and gripping. Tandem kayaks can allow people of all disabilities to participate in the sport together.

People with disabilities can also enjoy skiing with the assistance of adapted equipment. Those who have difficulty maintaining strength, stability, and coordination can ski with a bucket seat, mono-skis, or bi-skis. A visually impaired skier can have a guide to call out instructions from in front, beside, or behind them.

Other adapted sports require slight rule modifications to accommodate disabilities. For example, sitting volleyball keeps most of the same rules as regular basketball. The difference is that it’s played on a smaller court with a shorter net and requires that players maintain contact between their pelvis and the floor. Similarly, wheelchair basketball retains most of the rules and standards of regular basketball with some variations for dribbling and contact. This adapted sport is accessible to individuals with wide varieties of physical disabilities.

Special equipment and modifications are usually unnecessary for adapted swimming. Individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities can participate in races involving all swim strokes and distances.

The many different kinds of adapted sports allow people with disabilities to participate in physical activities for leisure or for competition. These sports improve overall well being by providing athletes with both physical and social benefits.

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