Recreational activities serve numerous therapeutic purposes in our everyday lives. Renewing friendships at a baseball game or experiencing the pure enjoyment of communing with nature are but two examples of the benefits of leisure activities.
With the help of the Americans with Disabilities Act, public places are becoming more accessible to people with disabilities. While there's still room for improvement, changes are taking place. National parks are beginning to include ramped or paved nature trails for people who use wheelchairs. Stadiums and theaters are making seating areas for wheelchairs.
Everyone has a better opportunity to enjoy favorite activities or to try new ones.
Recreation-related and travel businesses are also recognizing the benefits of catering to people with special needs. They realize that the estimated 49 million Americans with disabilities represent a large source of purchasing power.
Cruise lines, motels and resorts are making more and more rooms accessible for those who use wheelchairs. Some of these businesses are even purchasing adaptive equipment that allows access to their beaches, fishing areas, etc.
For just about every type of vacation or leisure activity in which people with neuromuscular diseases may have an interest, there's modified equipment available. While it's impossible to cover every piece of adaptive equipment and every recreational activity in limited space, the following sections provide some ideas or brief descriptions of items that make opportunities more enjoyable.
One source of equipment for those pursuing various leisure activities is Access to Recreation Inc. Its mail order catalog includes a wide variety of adaptive equipment for sale, with a focus on products for recreation.
"Interestingly, fishing equipment is our number one best seller," says Don Krebs, president of Access to Recreation. His catalog lists equipment that a fishing enthusiast with grasping difficulties and limited upper body strength may need, including an electric fishing reel (helps bring the catch in with the push of a button), about $350; an electric caster (casts the fishing line and hook 40 feet), about $130; a fishing pole holder, about $35; and a knotting device (to help thread hooks, tie knots and cut line), about $17.
For a free copy of the "Don Krebs' Access to Recreation" catalog, call (800) 634-4351.
For those who have some upper body mobility and want to enjoy the benefits of increased energy and stamina, weight loss, and stronger heart and lungs from an exercise program, Krebs' catalog provides gym equipment and aerobic devices designed to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
Home gyms for muscle strengthening and conditioning can be found at prices ranging from $2,300 to $7,000.
Upper body bicycling equipment, such as the Saratoga Sports Cycle, offers an aerobic conditioning workout for those who can "pedal" with their arms at various resistance levels. Cycles start at about $680.
Sometimes the progressive nature of neuromuscular diseases can reduce certain physical activities. Those who may have played golf before the onset of neuromuscular diseases can often continue to play with some minor adaptations. Others who are new to the game may enjoy trying a round of golf with a modified set of clubs that are used while seated in a wheelchair.
A set of short clubs, including three irons, a pitching wedge, putter and golf balls, is available through Krebs' catalog for about $300. Gripping gloves, priced about $50 and up, are available for a variety of activities from golf to pool and are useful to anyone who finds it difficult to grasp equipment.
Power wheelchair users will enjoy bowling with a "Bowling Buddy." It allows the bowler to push the ball to the line and stop suddenly, releasing the ball down the lane. The control and speed of the ball is determined by the user of the chair. The device sells for about $90.
Target shooters can enjoy the sport with devices such as a gun mount (attaches directly to a wheelchair) or a trigger cable system that fires the gun with the push of a button mounted on the side of a wheelchair. The mount is about $400 and the trigger cable is $80.
|Photos courtesy of Access to Recreation|
Sunning on the beach
Even beaches are more accessible for those who use wheelchairs. Natural Access provides an all-terrain wheelchair specifically developed to glide easily through the soft sand and shallow water.
The chair is designed so that the sand wheels can easily be changed to regular "street" wheels. This means only one chair is needed during a holiday beach visit.