Saturday, June 30, 2012

Paddling Adaptations

We are gearing up for our summer paddling programs to start next week! A new purchase for canoeing this year is the Universal Paddling Seat from Creating Ability. We started using this seat for kayaking last year. Adjustable side bars are fantastic options for those who need torso support and can be removed individually for those who don't. The overall comfort and stability of this well designed seat inspired me to get some for canoeing as well.

The canoe version mounts on a conventional wooden canoe seat - there is no design yet for plastic molded canoe seats, though that may be in the works. The terrific advantage of the Universal Paddling Seat is that it enables someone who might otherwise be relegated to the "duff" position in the middle of the boat to sit on a seat and paddle in the proper position. It also offers reclined positions and shoulder support if the person in the bow is not paddling. The beauty of the seat design is that it can be adjusted easily to offer as much or as little support as needed by each individual paddler. We are looking forward to trying this out with program participants in July!

Often the most needed modification is assistance holding and using the paddle. We've been using Creating Ability's hand adaptations since last year as well. No more home-made hand supports using inner tubes and zip ties! The basic across-the-back-of-the-hand-grip works well for those who have some  hand function but need support to keep the hands on the paddle.  Hands slide in and are held in place comfortably and can be slid out with ease.
For those unable to grasp the paddle but have good arm function, Kevin Carr of Creating Ability offers a unique hand cuff that slides into an attachment on the paddle. Hands are held in place on the paddle even if fingers can't grip the bar and the arms can be used to propel. In the event of a capsize, it is simple to slide the cuff and therefore hands out of the paddle attachment. New this year, we are exploring Kevin's latest adaptation for one-armed paddling, called ProPel, using a similar cuff system mounted in the middle of the paddle. Kevin also suggests the ProPel can be used with canoe paddles. We'll try it out.

Recently, I happened upon an innovative one-armed paddle design for canoeing designed a few years back in Wisconsin by a professor of outdoor education at Northland College. View it on YouTube here. If you are interested in this item, contact

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer 2012 Adaptive Biking Opportunities!

Adaptive cycling opportunities in Massachusetts and beyond continue to increase! Here are the active cycling opportunities in New England I know of - all great resources if you are looking for bikes to use and others to ride with!

Spaulding Riders Club - A community cycling club in Boston inclusive of athletes with physical disabilities will hep members find the right assistive devices to enjoy cycling on a regular basis. The Club hosts rides that are open to everyone regardless of disability status, every other Thursday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The dates are June 14 and 28, July 12 and 26, August 9 and 23. Cyclists meet at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston Pier, 125 Nashua Street in Boston (near the MBTA North Station) at 5:30pm. Ride begin at 6pm. If you own our own cycle, no reservations are necessary. For more information or if you are an athlete with a physical disability who are already been fitted to an adaptive cycle and would like to rent a cycle for the nominal $5 per session fee, please call 617-573-7104. Cycles are available by reservation only on a first come first served basis.

Spaulding's Adaptive Sports Center also hosts an every other Wednesday adaptive cycling ride along the Cape Cod Canal in Sandwich from Memorial Day to Labor Day in conjunction with CapeABLE Adventures.

Gaylord Sports Association Cycling Club - Monthly rides in Connecticut - Bring your own bike or reserve one. Call to reserve and directions will be sent to you a week before the ride. Rides are from 5-7pm, Tuesdays July 31 in New Haven, August 21 and September 18 in Cheshire. 203-284-2272.

DCR Universal Access Program - Weekly adaptive cycling program on Fridays from 11am-4pm in Hadley, MA from July 13 to August 24. A wide range of bikes available to ride in hour time slots on the 8 mile Norwottuck Rail Trail, including handcycles, recumbents, tandems and kid's bikes. Call All Out Adventures to register: 413-527-8980.

DCR also offers 2 adult handcycles for rental on the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Brewster at Rail Trail Bike Shop. Call 508-896-3491 for more information.

All Out Adventures - Cycling for Seniors (60+) - Weekly cycling program on Wednesdays from 10am - 2pm through October 17 in Hadley, MA. (No program June 27 and July 4). View their bike selection on line here. Call 413-527-8980 to register.

Northeast Passage - Click here for NEP's Summer Cycling Schedule! They'll be in NH, MA, and ME this summer with a variety of rides including the annual Notch Century Ride in the White Mountains where you can challenge yourself to ride 100 miles in 1, 2 or 3 days!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fun Day in the Park!

Fantastic weather and a perfect Adaptive Recreation Fair took place in Boston last weekend! Alongside the Charles River, people with all kinds of disabilities came to enjoy the beautiful day and try out cycling, kite flying and other activities at DCR's annual event.

Many wonderful volunteers and organizations helped make the day a huge success. As I visited each booth, I was amazed by the presence of many dedicated souls and marvelous endeavors than are improving the quality of life for everyone.

The Oak Square YMCA, located in Brighton, has an new adaptive fitness room. Maura Krueger, their health and wellness coordinator, showed me terrific photos of adaptive fitness equipment in use. I love that more gyms are coming on line with inclusive workout systems. Working out is a great way to build strength and endurance for outdoor pursuits! Find out more from Maura at

SMILE Mass is an organization new to us this year, the passionate mission of two women to improve vacation opportunities for families with disabilities. Their first project is to bring 100 beach wheelchairs to Cape Cod beaches by the end of 2012 . These aren't just any beach wheelchairs, but Mobi-Chairs, which are essentially rolling lounge chairs that float on the water. I had my first chance to actually sit in one and was impressed by their sturdiness and comfortable design! SMILE Mass has many more ambitious community-based projects planned. You can support their efforts through the purchase of ongoing raffle tickets. They offer great prizes! I'm right on board with this week's hot air balloon ride for two!

The Northeast Chapter of AMBUCS also set up a booth, with several AmTrykes for children on display. We recently purchased two Amtrykes, the 1516 ProSeries trike, which offers independent and/or supported steering and a range of seating adjustments that allow not just a wide range of users, but the potential for a child to grow up and still use the same bike. How cool is that? The first rider on our new AmTryke at this event demonstrated another vital aspect of this versatile and durable bike design - bring along your oxygen tank and ride! These bikes are a great personal investment - the Northeast Chapter offers 10% off AmTrykes and their therapists will help fit you to the right bike. You can reach them at

New England Disabled Sports brought a wide selection of adaptive recreation gear, including the Action TrackChair, a motorized wheelchair with snowmobile treads that looks like the pinnacle of all-terrain mobility devices. Geoff Krill answered for me what I'm sure is everyone's number one question - it costs $9300 - seems like a lot of money, but for those in the market, it is much more affordable than other models which run upwards of $25,000. New England Disabled Sports is based in New Hampshire and affiliated with Disabled Sports USA, the U.S. Paralympics team, Loon Mountain Ski Resort, and the Wounded Warriors Project.

A light intermittent breeze off the water allowed kids of all ages to test small kites after decorating them under a tent. We love seeing the smiles this new activity brings as people enjoy both parts of the kite experience. Along with taking home these free kites, we hope those who attended the adaptive recreation fair will also carry with them a sense of fun and motivation to pursue more summer recreation opportunities this year!

A long list of credits must follow for such an event. Thanks to All Out Adventures for facilitating adaptive cycling and doing a fantastic job as usual! Thanks to Waypoint Adventure, Community Boating, Northeast Passage and Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center for providing recreation opportunities for all! Thanks to Stavros Outdoor Access for taking people on short hikes and letterboxing. We are grateful to the many staff of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation who helped with various tasks to make the day go so smoothly! Also to the Empowerment Christian Church for providing a crew of people to monitor event safety! Thanks to Work, Inc. for dedicating two nurses to cover first aid. I am most appreciative of my colleagues and co-workers in the Universal Access Program for all your hard work! Thanks to the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, EMARC, Franciscan Hospital for Children, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, and Boys and Girls Club of Boston for all you do and providing a booth at our event! Heartfelt thanks to all who gave your time and energy in support of a great day!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sample Recumbent Bikes this Saturday!!

Weather is looking fantastic for our upcoming event at Artesani Park in Brighton this Saturday! Partly sunny and upper 70s with a light breeze!  Should be great for our new kite decorating and flying activity. Come join us from 10am-3pm and check out a wide array of adaptive bikes. Cycling has been the big draw at this annual event. All Out Adventures will be running the adaptive cycling area where you can try out handcycles, tandems, kids bikes and recumbents.

Recumbent bikes are gaining in popularity these days and come in both 2 wheel and 3 wheel versions as single and tandem bikes. They offer better ergonomics for those with joint issues. The first time I rode a recumbent, I rented one so I could keep a cycling date with friends that a wrist injury otherwise would have prevented me from enjoying. I was amazed at how much easier it was on my body to ride! Most recumbent designs offer quite a bit of relief for ankles, knees, hips and wrists compared to conventional two wheeled bikes.

All Out Adventures not only provides excellent adaptive recreation programs in kayaking, cycling and other activities, they are a distributor for Terra Trike, a recumbent bicycle company located in Michigan. Terra Trike provides recumbent bikes at a an affordable price. We have recently purchased two of their Rover bikes with tandem attachments. I have been impressed so far with the quality and durability of their bikes. It is a great ride - read a test ride review here! Come check it out Saturday! We'll have the Rover tandem on site along with a nice variety of recumbent brands and styles. Northeast Passage, Bike-on and AMBUCS will also have bikes available to test ride!

DCR's Adaptive Recreation Fair is a great opportunity to try out adaptive bikes for fun and if you are in the market to buy one. It's also a perfect place to connect with all the wonderful adaptive recreation opportunities available this summer in the Boston area and beyond! Don't miss it!