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Helping kids with disabilities stay active

All kids like to be active and move. Kids with disabilities are no different—they just need some extra help to make it happen. Participating in physical activity helps improve sleep and immunity, as well as improve self-esteem and decrease stress. Those with disabilities also show improved independence and socialization when they have the opportunity to participate in activities. For those who are unable to participate through traditional forms of activity, there are many types of adaptive equipment and activities available to them.
Biking is a great family activity that promotes socialization, improved strength and coordination, and promotes overall health. Adaptive bicycles are three-wheeled bikes with extra supports to help those with disabilities ride just like their friends and families do. There is a variety of bike styles and companies who make adaptive bikes that can help families determine what style best meets their needs.
Swimming is also a summer staple for most kids, and those with disabilities can participate by using adaptive swim equipment to help them float. They can also learn to swim through adaptive aquatics programs offered at a variety of locations, including LifeScape.
Gait trainers and walkers allow children with disabilities to enjoy movement and go for walks with their families. Using walkers and gait trainers help those with disabilities improve their bone mineral density and joint health, as well as improve their strength and overall self-image. There are a variety of styles of walkers and gait trainers that provide varying degrees of support and assistance to those with disabilities. A physical therapist can provide an evaluation for the assistive device that best meets your child’s needs.
For those who want to participate in a more formal exercise program, there is a wide selection of adaptive equipment available for weight lifting and cardiovascular workouts. These items can help to build strength, improve muscle definition, and increase endurance. Equipment such as wheelchair work-outs, hand weights, and arm bikes are great options for those who use wheelchairs.
Living an active lifestyle provides a variety of health benefits for everyone. Those with disabilities should strive to lead an active lifestyle just like those without disabilities. The use of adaptive activities and equipment can help make this possible for everyone.
-Rebeca Schmitz, PT, DPT, Physical Therapist at LifeScape

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