Sailing is a sport that everyone does sitting down, and adaptive sailing is not a new sport. It’s even part of the Olympics. However, new research has found that using a virtual sailing simulator on dry land enabled people with SCI to gain confidence before hitting the water. In addition, the study found that learning to sail had therapeutic benefits for both body and mind.
Researchers at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD published the results of their research in a recent issue the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Once on the water, participants were able to perform specific sailing maneuvers such as steering the course, sail trimming, tacking, jibbing and mark rounding. They described their on-water experiences as “exhilarating and great fun”. They added that participating in a sports activity with their family members and leaving their wheelchair unoccupied gave them a “sense of optimism about the future.”
“Sports and recreation are a very important component of the rehabilitation process, not only for general physical well-being, but for improving overall quality of life for patients who have sustained spinal cord injuries,” says study author Dr. Albert Recio. “We are very pleased with the results of this unique training program and hope that this type of recreational tool can also help in the rehabilitation of patients with other disabilities.”