Adaptive Sports for People with Duchenne
The camaraderie developed among teammates in sports helps participants form strong bonds with other players. Even individual sports have adaptations that could prove to be the next enjoyable hobby to enrich your life. In addition to the social aspects of competing in sports, both team and individual sports can also help contribute to long-term quality of life through the benefits of cardiovascular exercise and improved self-care skills.
Getting exercise is an important part of staying healthy for everyone. Even if someone with Duchenne is in a wheelchair, moderate exercise is still important to improve muscle tone, circulation and to keep the heart as healthy as possible. For instance, researchers surmise that power wheelchair soccer helps sustain light to moderate intensity exercise for participants that may help enhance functional capacity and performance of daily living activities.
“Participation in sports like power soccer provides many social and emotional benefits, so it’s really great to see research that shows a potential cardiovascular benefit as well.”– Jennifer Wallace Valdes, PT, CureDuchenne
Yet, according to the CDC, less than half of all individuals with mobility disabilities get any physical activity at all, and may suffer from the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle. But when matched with the right activity, adaptive sports are helping expand ways for people with Duchenne to play, compete and stay healthy.
Not only are individuals with Duchenne participating in adaptive sports, they’re setting records and competing at the highest levels. In fact, a Swedish sport shooter with Duchenne won gold in the Mixed 10m Air Rifle event at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo with a final score of 252.8 – setting a new record. And identical twins battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy are representing their country on Team USA’s power wheelchair soccer team.
Duchenne affects each individual differently. What an individual will gravitate toward and enjoy varies, and you’ll want to be certain that it is right for you. So as always, be sure to check with your doctor and a certified physical therapist before engaging in any new activity that involves physical exertion. Take caution and slowly ease yourself in to prevent damaging your muscles or injuring yourself.
Adaptive Sports Resources
Whether you are interested in participating in adaptive sports for fun or for medals, here are some resources to get you started:
- The Adaptive Sports Foundation provides a variety of opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to discover a lifelong passion for outdoor physical activity.
- The University of Utah TRAILS program offers education and equipment for people with complex physical disabilities to participate in sports like skiing and sailing, watersports and more. https://www.utrails.us/about
- Stride Adaptive Sports, based in the NY area, educates and empowers individuals with special needs in life-changing sport and recreation programs to sustain healthy, active and fun lifestyles. https://www.stride.org/
- Power Soccer is played in more than 30 countries, and Power Soccer USA https://www.powersoccerusa.org/ can help you find a local club or start one of your own. The https://powersoccershop.com/ can help you outfit your current power chair or upgrade to better compete in the game.
- The National Sports Center for the Disabled offers an adaptive ski school and a number of ways to enjoy the slopes. https://nscd.org/program/adaptive_ski_school/
- Did you know that kayaks sailboats can be fully adapted as well? US Sailing has a robust adaptive sailing program. https://www.ussailing.org/education/adult/adaptive-sailing/
- If hockey sounds more appealing, you might want to know that the International Power Chair Hockey World Championship 2022 took place in August! http://powerchairhockey.org/denmark-wins-the-ipch-world-championship-2022-in-sursee/
- Get involved in Archery, one of the world’s oldest sports! https://www.adaptivesportsusa.org/sports/archery/
For an introduction to some of these programs listed and more, watch this video from the 2019 FUTURES FUN panel discussing adaptive sports, activities, and equipment for individuals with Duchenne: https://www.cureduchenne.org/resource-library/2019-futures-fun-panel/