This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Exercise and Fitness After Spinal Cord Injury. Lynn Worobey, PhD, DPT, ATP, researcher, discusses Accessing Adaptive Equipment.

A barrier that some people might find with different types of fitness is … for sports, you often need a specialized chair. So if you’re hand cycling or if you’re doing basketball or rugby, there’s specialized equipment associated with that. We have a lot of teams in our local area, like sled hockey and the teams I mentioned, where they have other foundations that can kind of help with supporting that. Or if you’re interested in trying a new sport, they may have some extra chairs where you can kind of try it out, see if it’s something that you’re interested in, and then pursue that in the future with the support of other foundations or private institutions that can kind of help with the financial aspects of that.

Katie Smith: All of these adaptive sports are so great for you psychosocially and just getting out there and being able to achieve something, get out of your wheelchair, meet people. But it can get expensive. And for example, the wheelchair rugby, the specialized chairs can be $4 to $5,000 because they’re handcrafted to be specifically fit for you.

And there are some organizations out there like the Challenged Athletes’ Foundation for providing equipment or for providing the money to travel to different things. If you give them a plan and a budget, you could get that. Also, you have to show commitment to those activities before you can get grants like that for equipment a lot of the time. I t’s nice when you can find used equipment or get involved with an organization like the Steelwheelers. I played in someone else’s old chair for about six years until I was able to afford my own because my grant didn’t even cover the whole chair.

I don’t really think I was overwhelmed by the cost and the travel initially. I was just so excited to dive into things; and, really, rugby was the first thing that I got involved in. And I was in that for a long time before I really broke off into different sports. I had a lot of support to be to get to the activities, for people to drive me. And by the time that I had my own car and started driving myself, two years after my accident, I was able to get there myself. But having the support of the Steelwheelers to have that equipment, I just was so excited to have an outlet, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from that.

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