PushNationFest.org | Adaptive Sports for disabilities
The rise of adaptive sports has been steep in the past year for survivors of spinal cord injury. Push Nation Fest explores the options.
sci, spinal cord injury, paralysis, paraplegic, quadriplegic, diabilities
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The Power of Adaptive Sports


The Power of Adaptive Sports

Did you know that adaptive sports were created in 1948 by Dr. Ludwig Guttman as a rehabilitation method for spinal cord injured patients in England?  Dr. Ludwig’s works eventually lead to the creation of the International Stoke Mandeville Games, a competition for athletes with SCI, and later the first wheelchair Olympics in 1960. These developments have opened doors to the disability community – especially those with SCI.

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center there are 12,500 new cases of SCI in the U.S. every year. As of 2014, between 240,000-337,000 people are subject to this catastrophic injury. 52% of these survivors are paraplegics while 47% are quadriplegics. An SCI does not just affect an individual physiologically. This type of injury also affects one’s emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. This article explores the effects of adaptive sports on one’s quality of life.

A study conducted by Lundberg showed that the participation in adaptive sports and recreational activities helps reduce negative mood states and aids stress reduction. This is especially important as SCI individuals with acquired disabilities experience higher rates of negative mood than individuals without disabilities. Providing a sense of competence and vigor, adaptive sports promote social activity and redevelopment skills that are crucial to the recovery of a catastrophic injury. The change in mindset that can result from participating in activities previously thought out of reach or unimaginable is incredible.

In regard to physical health, athletics appear to decrease morbidity in several areas including incidence of urinary tract and respiratory infections, severe spasticity and decubitus ulcers.

With the advancement of technology and increased participation, there is a wide variety of sports SCI patients can participate in. Here are just a few options here in Florida:


SCI survivors like Paralympic competitor Oz Sanchez or basketball player Alana Nichols are certainly making their mark in the adaptive athletic world and there have been some amazing milestones. For example, Pete Reiki became a complete paraplegic when he was involved in a rock climbing accident. He vowed he would climb again – and he did! In 1999, he successfully reached the summit of Mount Rainier independently.

It is incredibly encouraging and inspiration to see athletes like Reiki going out there and accomplishing their goals. If you’re interested in athletics and haven’t yet taken the steps to participate, we encourage you to follow your dreams!


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