As a wheelchair user you may believe that physical activities are out of your reach, however this is definitely not the case. In fact, there are heaps of opportunities awaiting wheelchair-bound youth and adults who are interested in pursuing sports both recreationally and competitively.
Sports played in a wheelchair, also called adaptive sports, have actually been around for decades, first beginning as a means to rehabilitate veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Today adaptive sports are played from youth league levels to college teams and at national levels, and range from wheelchair basketball to wheelchair hockey and skiing. Some of these activities have been adapted to meet the needs of wheelchair users while others such as handcycling, have been developed specifically for those in a wheelchair.
The majority of these sports are played with users in manual wheelchairs which can be tailored for the specific sport you are playing. Many of these modified, manual wheelchairs come equipped with angled rear wheels which allow the user more control and stability when whipping around the basketball and tennis courts. There are some sports that do require a user to utilize a power wheelchair; however these leagues are slightly harder to come by simply due to the fact that there are more manual wheelchair users than power wheelchair users.
It is recommended that when playing sports or doing physical activities in your wheelchair that you have a separate, special wheelchair that you employ solely for sporting activities. Using your everyday wheelchair for these physical activities can not only put a strain on you and your game, but also on the chair itself. Many chairs used conjointly for everyday use and sports use show irregular wear and tear and the lifespan of the chair can be greatly hindered. There are tons of companies where you can get a custom-made sport wheelchair modified to fit your specific needs.
So how can you get started in the exciting world of adaptive sports? The Wheelchair Sports Federation is one of the earliest non-profit groups to provide opportunities for wheelchair users that still provides wheelchair-bound adults and youth the chance to play all types of adaptive sports. If you are interested in competing in wheelchair sports at a national and competitive level, the U.S. Paralympics offers the chance to become a national classifier for wheelchair users who have excelled in their fields.
Just because you are wheelchair-bound, you are not prevented from participating in sports or physical activities. Getting involved with sports or exercise is not only good for your health, it can greatly improve your happiness and quality of life. Get involved today!