Choosing the Right Sports Chair for Kids

Sports empower children to stay mentally and physically healthy. Physical activity keeps kids active, builds confidence, and introduces them to new friends. Despite knowing the importance of physical activity for children with disabilities, it can be difficult to decide which type of sports wheelchair to buy.

Before you invest in a chair, you might wonder if it’s worth it to spend money on a chair they might grow out of, or whether they will stick with the sport long enough to use it.

Choosing the Right Sports Chair for Kids

We’ll help you make this important decision. (more…)

The History of Wheelchair Basketball

With the popularity of wheelchair basketball today, you’d never guess it only began in the 1940s. How did the sport begin, and how did it make its way to an international level? Let’s take a look back at the history of wheelchair basketball.

history of wheelchair basketball

Wheelchair basketball today is a prominent sport played by many on an international level. Its roots are quite new though, with it first originating in the 1940s through disabled veterans. (more…)

Basketball Wheelchairs: Which One is Right for You?

Just as other sports require participants to use certain equipment and skills, wheelchair sports require a certain set of equipment and skills. Whether you are a beginner looking to start playing wheelchair basketball, advanced in your skills, or even a professional, we can help you choose the wheelchair that is right for you. (more…)

Events and Expos to Look Forward to in 2017

The 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando
Closing Ceremonies at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando

January

January 7-8: UW Whitewater Junior Regional Basketball Tournament will be held in U of W Whitewater for the Prep division and is always a big one due to this high quality event. For more tournaments and dates click here.

January 18 – 27: The Summer Down Under Wheelchair Road Racing Series in Australia kicks off the wheelchair racing circuit. The Series has grown from a single road race to two international competitions, road, and track events, and attracts the finest wheelchair athletes from across the globe. The Series includes the Canberra International Track Meet, the Sydney Twilight Track Meet and the infamous Oz Day 10K – Road racing through Sydney’s The Rocks on Australia Day. 

February

February 3-5th: The Top End Euro American Handcycle Championship is the first premier event of the season for handcycling. This is a 3 day event based in sunny (and usually warm) Clermont, Florida which starts with a road race, followed by a time trial the first day and ends with a grand finale criterium on the final day. This year we are adding a Jr. Division for athletes ages 10-18. Stay tuned to our Top End Facebook page for upcoming details.

Check out more races and events or find a club to get started in this great sport! 

March

March 29-April 2: The 2017 National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s National Championships will be held once again in Louisville, Kentucky and will mark the 10th time that the bluegrass state has hosted the world’s largest single sporting event for athletes with disabilities. Can you believe that last year there were 88 teams and 976 athletes across five divisions competing for a coveted national title which broke all the records for this sport?

The Pensacola Wheelchair Open is held typically in March and is the season opener for the USA. For more information click here.

March 24-26: The Abilities Expo Los Angeles is a great way to check out all of the latest sports and recreation equipment to get your year off to a healthy start.  The first USA 2017 Abilities Expo will be at the beautiful LA Convention Center located in downtown Los Angeles, California.  Consumers can test out all of our handcycles including the Invacare® Top End® Force™-3 Handcycle, Invacare® Top End® Excelerator™ and new Li’l Excelerator™-2 handcycles plus our popular Invacare® Top End® Force RX™. We will also have our basketball, racing, and tennis wheelchairs on display too.

April

April 15: The Boston Marathon is the best of the best and attracts a world class field. Look for Team Invacare’s Kurt Fearnley, Manuela Schar, and Amada McGrory to be in the lead pack! Don’t miss it!

April 23: The London Marathon is another big wheelchair racing event with a huge field. Most of the elite athletes will compete in both the Boston and London Marathons.

May

May 5-7: The Abilities Expo New York Metro is a great way to check out all of the latest sports and recreation equipment so you will be ready for spring and summer. We will have all of our handcycles to test out, wheelchairs for the great outdoors, plus tennis and basketball wheelchairs.  

June

June 23-25: The Abilities Expo Chicago is a great way to check out all of the latest sports and recreation equipment so you will be ready for the short Midwest summer. We will have lots of handcycles to test out, both recreation and competitive models for all ages, wheelchairs for the great outdoors, plus tennis and basketball wheelchairs.  

July

July 17-22:  37th National Veterans Wheelchair Games
Nearly 600 veterans from across the country participate each year in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.  This year’s event will take place July 17 – July 22 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Veterans compete in a variety of adaptive sports, including wheelchair basketball, quad rugby, archery, triathlon, track and field, swimming, softball, slalom, nine ball, and boccia. #NVWG  

August

August 4-6: The Abilities Expo Houston is a great opportunity to see what’s new in sports and recreation plus the latest in seating/positioning and everyday chairs.  Invacare Top End will have a large dedicated space for education and test rides, so come on out and join us.

September

September 8-10: The Abilities Expo Boston is a great opportunity to see what’s happening with sports and recreation equipment and has lots of organizations there to help you get started! You can also see the latest in seating/positioning and everyday chairs.  Invacare Top End will have a large dedicated space for education and test rides, so come on out and join us.

September 23-30: Invictus Games Toronto is an amazing international sporting event for wounded servicemen and women. The Invictus Games embodies the fighting spirit of wounded service members and showcases what they can achieve post-injury. The inaugural Invictus Games 2014 were held in London and founded by Prince Harry who witnessed the positive effect of adaptive sports at the USA’s Warrior Games and decided that the whole world needed a platform just like them. Last year the games were held in Orlando, Florida.

This year, more than 500 athletes are expected to compete in ten sports including track and field, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, archery, powerlifting, indoor rowing, swimming, sitting volleyball, road cycling, and wheelchair tennis.

How to find events near you all year:

Wheelchair Tennis

http://www.itftennis.com/wheelchair/home.aspx

https://www.usta.com/Adult-Tennis/Wheelchair-Tennis/Wheelchair/

Wheelchair Basketball

http://www.nwba.org/

http://iwbf.org/

Competitive Handcycling

http://usahandbikecircuit.com/

http://www.uci.ch/para-cycling/calendar/

Recreation Handcycling

http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/sport/hand-cycling/

http://www.usacycling.org/find-para-cycling-and-handcycling-clubs-through-a-new-network.htm

Wheelchair Racing

Wheelchair Racing doesn’t have a specific website with a calendar of events but if there is a marathon or 10K happening in your area, they might have a wheelchair division so you can check that out. The LA, NYC, Boston, London, and Chicago Marathons are some of the famous ones!


tip sheet: things to consider

5 Adaptive Winter Sports to Try

Winter can be fun if you get out and enjoy this time of year! Downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sled hockey, or even curling are some of the activities that can be enjoyed during cold weather.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

adaptive-winter-sports

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding is really fun once you have learned how. Today you can see many disabled skiers skiing down ski hills and mountains across the country. Experienced skiers make it look easy but this takes time and practice but the good news is that you too can be schussing down a hill the same day you begin your adaptive skiing lessons. Snowboarding is a newer sport so it may take a bit more research to find a program that offers instruction. More detailed information is on the Disabled Sports USA website.

How to get started? The first thing is to locate a program in your area. Disabled Sports USA has chapters with adaptive ski programs nationwide. Visit their locations page and search for a skiing program near you. If there isn’t a program close to you, call the nearest ski hill and ask if they have an adaptive program. Once you’ve located an adaptive program, call and ask questions about the accessibility of the ski area, and the type of skiing available to you based on your disability. Tell them you have never been on skis before but don’t worry, instructors love to teach you how to ski!

What adaptive equipment is needed? Depending on your level of disability, there are several ways you can downhill ski using different types of adaptive equipment. This is rented or loaned by the program you go to.

Four-track skiing is stand up skiing with outriggers used for support and/or balance. Persons with leg weakness due to spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, head trauma, paraplegia, or polio are candidates. Amputees also use this method while wearing their prosthetic legs.  The outriggers have ski tips on the end of a metal forearm crutches with ski tips on the ends.

Sometimes ski stabilizers or tip clamps (ski bras) are used for lateral stability if needed. A tip clamp can also allow a student’s strong side to help control the weaker side. The design of tip clamps allows the skis to stay in a wedge or parallel position while skiing.

The snow slider is another form of four-track skiing for those with more severe balance issues. Skis are mounted to the metal frame making it something like a walker with skis. The skier uses their own boots and skis and is aided by instructors on either side.

Three-track skiing is stand-up skiing using one full-size ski and two handheld outriggers for balance/support, giving the skier three points of contact with the snow. Individuals with above-knee amputations and single limb weakness typically use this method of skiing.

Two-track skiing is suitable for any skier who stands and balances on two skis but may need tethers, spacers, and ski bras while in motion. This method is typically used by those with developmental and cognitive disabilities, mild cerebral palsy, visual impairment, hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, Fragile X Syndrome, epilepsy, Friedreich’s Ataxia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, or spina bifida.

Cross-country skiing

adaptive-winter-sports-2

Cross-country skiing is skiing over a groomed or natural terrain using arms and legs synchronized in a striding, gliding motion that creates a full-body aerobic workout. This sport can be easily adapted for people who have amputations, vision impairment, spinal injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke or a brain injury. It is a low-risk sport, beginner friendly, and low cost compared to downhill skiing.

What does this sport involve? Cross-country skiing requires the skier to use a self-propelled movement by pushing along with arms (and poles) and kicking off with legs (on cross country skis). As you can imagine, this is a huge aerobic workout, which is good for the heart. Stand-up skiers can use this technique once the basics are mastered with the proper equipment/instruction and sit skiers use a special sled propelled by using their arms. There is typically a higher comfort level with cross-country skiing than with alpine because the sport is done at a slower pace, there are fewer people, it costs less and is convenient.

What adaptive equipment is used? Stand up skiers use standard equipment, which can be modified for prostheses or other conditions. Visually-impaired skiers work with a guide who calls directions and warns of obstacles. Sit skis have a seat balanced over a frame with two cross-country skis about 12 inches apart. The skier sits in the seat with legs extended in front, supported by a footrest. Adaptive ski programs would be the place to start for both proper instruction and equipment.

Sled hockey

winter-paralympics-japan-upsets-canada-in-sledge-hockey-semi-final-1

Sled hockey is a sit-down version of ice hockey for players whose disability prevents them from playing stand-up hockey. Just like stand-up hockey, checking and high-speed slap shots are common features of the sport.

How Is It Played? There is little difference in sled hockey and stand-up hockey. The goal is still to put the puck in the net. Sled hockey players use their arms to power themselves around the ice and their hips to move side to side. There are six players for each team – three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie. Play is on a regulation sized ice rink with standard size nets and puck with the same amount of regulation play time and two able-bodied referees call the game.

Who Can Play? Sled hockey is played by a wide range of players with a variety of mobility limitations: amputees, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, along with anyone who has a permanent disability that limits participation in stand-up hockey.

What adaptive equipment is used?  The sleds have a lightweight aluminum frame that has a custom bucket to sit in and holds the legs and feet, and it is mounted on two skate blades attached under the bucket. The players use two hockey sticks for propulsion, passing, and shooting. The sticks are about 3 feet long and have metal picks on one end for players to propel themselves. Players who have limited grip can have sticks secured to their hands allowing them to play.

Wheelchair curling

Wheelchair curling is a unique sport that can be played by a wide range of ability levels and ages that doesn’t require a huge amount of physical ability, strength, or endurance.  It is a stationary sport that is played while using an everyday wheelchair and is basically a combination of shuffleboard and bowling on a unique ice surface.    

How is it played? There are very few rule differences between standing and wheelchair curling. The primary difference is that there is no sweeping in wheelchair curling due to the great difficulty for a wheelchair user to propel down the ice and sweep simultaneously. Two teams of four players each slide 42-pound polished granite stones (also called rocks) across a sheet of ice toward a target, called the “house,” at the other end. Each team tries to get more of its stones closer to the center of the house, called the button, than the other team.

Who can play? The World Curling Federation has established classification guidelines and eligibility criteria with focus on individuals who are non-ambulatory so primarily people who have a spinal injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or double leg amputation and use a wheelchair for their mobility.

What adaptive equipment is used? What is great about wheelchair curling is that it does not require a specialized wheelchair or expensive adaptive equipment. Each athlete plays in his or her own personal wheelchair and uses a telescopic delivery stick to push the stone.  What’s even better is that both power and manual wheelchairs are allowed as long as they have secure wheel locks.

Download Tip Sheet: Tips for Flying with a Handcycle

References: Much of the information in this blog was extracted from the Disabled Sport USA website