Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Power Chairs in the Outdoors

In nearly fifteen years as an adaptive recreation program coordinator, I've helped to make outdoor recreation more accessible for people with all kinds of disabilities. I've met many people who use power wheelchairs, some of whom have been able and willing to transfer out of their chairs to experience using a beach wheelchair on the beach, kayaking, rowing, sailing, ice sled skating, cycling, horseback riding, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiling. In many cases, a person with a severe disability is able to be situated well enough with modifications for comfort, stability and function, to enjoy being on the water, snow, ice, a horse or some type of recreation equipment, whether they are active or inactive. Still there are many power chair users for whom this is simply not a comfortable or realistic option.

Outdoor recreation possibilities for this niche of people with more severe disabilities seem quite limited. Nonetheless some of the individuals I know do whatever they can to explore, try new activities and have fun. Some examples I've seen are spinning and sliding on the ice, fishing, birding, traveling along the smoother pavement of rail trails or waterfront promenades, the use of accessible trails in parks and attending outdoor fairs and events. Remote control devices, which typically require movement from just a couple of fingers, can open up enjoyment of outdoor environments as well. Remote control sailing, also known as model sailing, offers a gentle eye-pleasing experience and the chance to learn the basics of sailing and even compete.

Indoor recreation options are more prevalent, likely to be more wheelchair accessible and on public transportation. Visiting museums, attending concerts and performances, and going to the movies are viable options for those who can get out of the house. Using the internet for games and blogging offers opportunities for social engagement for those who can use a computer. Power soccer, a sport designed for power chair players, takes place on basketball courts and offers the opportunity for team play and competition.

If you use a power chair, or know someone who does, please submit a post here and share what you enjoy doing in the outdoors from the perspective of a power chair user. I'm gathering information in order to be able to better serve people with severe disabilities. Your needs, input, preferences and requirements would be most appreciated! Please do a quick click on the poll too!


Kenny said...

Hi Everyone,

I love using my C350 Permobil Power Chair outdoors except in places where the terrain is sandy or muddy because when it gets stuck in sand or mud..it is way too heavy for my friends to lift out of it. My power chair can also can be tough riding on tall grass so it's good to keep grass areas cut.

I am able to transfer to a beach wheelchair and I have my own that is tilt and space chair because I need it for added spine support. I love using it at Scusset Beach, Horseneck Beach and Old Silver Beach. All these beaches have loaner beach wheelchair but none are tilt and space. You can check out my review of my tilt and space beach wheelchair on my website @ http://thetravelingwheelchair.com/de-bug-all-terrain-wheelchair-by-deming-designs-inc/

I love your new blog too!


cyndy said...

It's great that you get out there Kenny. At the beach, do you also swim?
I use a powerchair as well. I enjoy taking my dog for walks in different parks, birding, fishing, nature journaling, meeting people and swimming in the summer. I try to stay on terrain that I know I won't get stuck in but it does happen sometimes. I can't wait for spring so I can get outdoors more. I hope to check out more DCR Universal Access Programs too!