Staying Active with Adaptive Winter Sports

January 14, 2013

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.  Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to enjoy the winter and the recreational activities that come with the season.  Adaptive winter sports are an ideal way to stay active and healthy in 2013. Whether it’s hitting the slopes or ice, there are many options for people with spinal cord injuries.

Adaptive skiing is an adventurous way to spend time with family and friends.  Advances in technology and increased interest have made it a very popular sport.

A great way for beginners to get started is with mono or bi-skiing.  Both involve using sit-skis and outriggers, which are short-ski-footed poles.  People with more upper-body strength tend to enjoy mono-skiing on one single wide ski, while people with less upper-body strength prefer the stability of two skis.

Missi, whose son became paraplegic at 8 months, says skiing is a great way to spend time with her family.  Her son “does downhill skiing, so our whole family has been able to ski together, and we didn’t know that would ever be possible, that we’d all be out on the mountain together, so that was very fun.”  Watch Missi talk more about adaptive skiing.

Sled hockey is another another exciting adaptive sport.  It is a tough, rough contact game–with all the thrills, spills and satisfactions of regular ice hockey.  It is essentially the same as stand-up hockey, except players use adaptive sleds, which glide on two skate blades.  It also involves using two short-end hockey sticks that are used to navigate and shoot on the rink.  It is not a sport for sissies.

The sport is also played year-round competitively.  Bill, who has been paraplegic since he was 9 months old,  explains that sled hockey “is basically played the way as regular ice hockey.  We’re in a specially adaptive sled with two hockey sticks. We wear the same equipment that a hockey player wears, and you basically play hockey like everyone else would.”  Watch Bill talk more about adaptive sports.

Adaptive hockey is also a great social outlet.  Ramon, who became paraplegic at age 25, says, “My favorite adaptive sport in the world is sled hockey.  It’s something that I never thought I would be playing on the ice, and I got a great team, great folks.” Hear what else Ramon says about sled hockey.

If you’re looking for a little less action on the rink, consider recreational ice skating.  It uses a sled just like adaptive hockey, but can be a more relaxed way to spend the afternoon.

Sports are a very good way to connect with others who know what you’re going through.  Hector, who became paraplegic at age 19, believes, “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. Wheelchair sports, I recommended it to anybody that’s in a wheelchair. Get out there, and try it, just try it and you will get hooked on it. But don’t say I can’t, never say you can’t, you try it and you’ll be surprised what you can do.”  Watch more on adaptive sports.

What role have adaptive sports played in your life?  Please share below.

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