Adaptive sports are so important for children with physical disabilities. Too often children with cerebral palsy and other conditions are limited, not included, and aren’t given the opportunities to get active and enjoy sports like other kids do. This is changing, though, and it’s changing for the better. While there was once a time when people assumed a child with disabilities couldn’t participate, more individuals, schools, communities, and non-profit groups are ensuring that these children can participate, and adaptive technology plays a big role.
Cerebral Palsy and Limitations
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition. It impacts muscles and motor skills, and although symptoms and severity vary by individual, most children with cerebral palsy have at least some physical limitations. Depending on the type of cerebral palsy, a child may struggle to control muscle movements, may have jerky or floppy movements, may have a hard time with balance and coordination, or may even be unable to walk.
Treatments for cerebral palsy can improve mobility. Surgeries, for example, can readjust tight muscles or joints to make moving easier and less painful. Physical and other therapies can help a child stretch and build muscles, learn how to move in ways that are less painful, and generally be more mobile. Sometimes medications help too. A big part of treatment for mobility issues in cerebral palsy is adaptive technology.
What is Adaptive Technology?
For everyday needs, adaptive technology may be as simple as a walker or a standard wheelchair. Where adaptive technology gets more fun and exciting is when it gets kids with cerebral palsy involved in sports. There are many more devices available now than ever before that allow kids with limitations to participate. Athletic wheelchairs, for instance, have come a long way and can help a child get involved in sports like basketball, racing, and even ice hockey.
Adaptive equipment for sports is used for both kids and adults with a variety of disabilities. The technology has advanced greatly in recent years. There are even adaptive devices that can help a person with a disability surf, skateboard, race in moto-cross, compete in cross-fit, and even play golf. Boundaries are being torn down thanks to new technologies in adaptive sports.
Adaptive Sports Organizations Pave the Way
The technology is just one piece of the puzzle in getting children with disabilities involved in sports. There also has to be opportunity and availability. This is where dedicated organizations step in and use the technology to make sure kids have the chance to participate. Groups like the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs, Disabled Sports USA, the Special Olympics, and the Paralympics are leading the charge.
These groups provide opportunities and events and advocate for children and teens with physical and other disabilities, like cerebral palsy. Some of the groups mainly organize events around the country, while others actively participate in schools and communities creating models and funding programs to help children get involved at the local level.
Having a physical disability, having limitations or a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, is no longer a sentence that means sitting out when other kids get involved. Thanks to advocacy and technology, more children than ever are using adaptive equipment to participate in sports and to enjoy what all children enjoy: being active and social.