Fun Adaptive Activities to Try This Summer
Taking up an outdoor activity this summer can be a great way to improve your overall health and wellness, and summer is the perfect time to try something outside your usual routine. Below are some ideas you can try by yourself or with a group.
Swimming & Surfing
Summer is synonymous with water activities as it's the best way to stay active while feeling refreshed. Individuals with limb loss can try swimming without a prosthesis. But for those who want to swim with a prosthetic limb, prosthetic fins can help upper- and lower-limb amputees move in the water.
Surfing is another fun water activity that helps build confidence and improve balance. Depending on your level of amputation and confidence in the water, catching a wave with a surfboard doesn't necessarily require adaptive equipment. If you're new to surfing, look for a specially-trained guide to help you feel empowered on a board.
If you want a low-impact, water-based sport, try paddling. Padding gives your upper body a good workout as you experience a greater connection with nature. This sport is particularly accessible for individuals with lower-limb loss. For double-leg amputee Nate Denofre, the only modification he made to his 17-foot canoe is buying a folding seat. Individuals with upper-limb loss can still participate in kayaking or canoeing with the help of prosthetic arms designed specifically for these activities.
Running & Hiking
If water sports aren't your thing, you can stick to ground-based activities like hiking and running. These two activities only require a little adaptive equipment, and both offer many health benefits.
Hiking, or simply walking outdoors, helps you work on your strength and cardio. It's also a great way to clear your mind. Running also offers significant health benefits and activates the release of feel-good hormones. If you'd like to start adaptive running, preparing your body through gait training and other exercises is essential. Then consult your prosthetist for the proper running prosthesis.
Cycling is one of the best sports for amputees of all levels, with options for hand-cycling and road and mountain biking. Lower-limb amputees can choose from various hand-powered bike models for off-road adventures, racing, or recreation.
Climbing is an excellent sport for lower-limb amputees as it only requires a harness. But as you get more invested in the sport, you can ask your prosthetist about getting a climbing foot.
If it's your first time trying climbing, visit a local climbing gym where variables are controlled, then you can work your way towards climbing a mountain.
Adaptive activities for kids
Children can also enjoy the same activities as adults. For adaptive cycling, the Shriners Children's Chicago has the On the Road2Ride program, which offers free equipment, guidance, and training. Patients are given a chance to try different adaptive bikes to learn which modified bikes suit them and their medical needs.
If your young one is interested in golf, the hospital also has an adaptive golf program, which runs monthly from May to October at the Sunshine Course in Lemont, Illinois. An adaptive golf cart is even available if needed.
Another excellent recreational activity for kids is the hospital's therapeutic horseback riding. The program has highly-trained horses managed by licensed and experienced therapists and instructors. Besides horseback riding, children can participate in activities like leading and grooming. Shriners Children's started offering therapeutic horseback riding in the 1990s, and it's a fun way to work on rehabilitation goals.
Shriners Children's recreation therapists also work with H2O Adaptive Sports to offer adapted water skiing. Options for adaptable equipment, like sit-skis and outriggers, are available. Additional volunteers in the water are also on standby to ensure your child's safety.
Looking for adaptive activities in your area
Finding summer activity options can be challenging, but you can always start with a simple Google search. Look for "adaptive recreation," "inclusive recreation," "activities for amputees," or "activities for people with disabilities." You can also check your park district for a special recreation department or ask your prosthetist.
What summer adaptive activities are you looking forward to trying?