Aren't sports out of the question?
Miss T is 4 years old. She suffered a traumatic brain injury at 3 weeks old, and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy resulted. She uses a walker, wheelchair, and orthotics. Does this prevent her from becoming an athlete? Why no! Have you seen the list of adapted summer and winter sports at the Paralympics (https://www.paralympic.org/sports)?? There are 28 sports!! These athletes pave the way for Miss T to have access to these adaptive sports (Did you know that these Paralympic athletes can compete as young as 8 years old??). Could my four year old become a future medal winner at the Paralympics?? I now know it is a possible option! At the very least, she has the choice of so many fun sports to try.
We are starting out by utilizing United States Adaptive Recreation Center (http://usarc.org/) and Miss T has been able to try skiing that has been accommodated to her abilities. Specialized equipment and dedicated volunteers make this possible. Her first couple of times out she used a bi-ski. This looks like a bucket seat sled with two skis which she sits in with safety straps to secure her, helmet on, and ski goggles or sunglasses are used protect her eyes from the snow glare. Miss T uses prescription eyeglasses for eye protection to fit over her eyeglasses. As she is so young, we were unable to find over-the-glasses goggles that do not squish her nose, so she wears sunglasses over the top of her prescription eyeglasses. Once Miss T hit the slopes, she laughed and laughed the whole time! The proprioception, sensory integration, and sheer exhilaration of speed were terrific for her. The two volunteers lifted her in her bi-ski onto the chairlift, then guide her down the mountain, keeping her out of range of other skiers. They are trained and sensitive to the individual needs of each participant, checking in with them often throughout the session. As Miss T can use a walker, it was suggested she try stand-up skiing. They use a SnowSlider supportive gear, with “outrigger” skis for stabilization. It's finely been adjusted to the user, and after giving it a try Miss T said this was even better than the bi-ski! She did become much more tired, as she had to use far more muscles than in the bi-ski. A snack break helped keep her energy up. She loves going out skiing, and we are thrilled for her to enjoy this activity!
Miss T has been kayaking on the lake a few times as well. She tells us “let’s go get some lake!”. Her ability to use the paddle will increase as she becomes taller, and stronger.
She takes therapeutic horseback riding with www.Equu8.org and this has had an amazing affect on her tight hip muscles, and range of motion for her arms. We look forward to this becoming an opening to more equestrian sports for her.
Miss T loves kicking a soccer ball around, so we have been looking into finding a nearby location to become involved with American Youth Soccer Organization VIP program in the near future. In the meantime, we place cones from the dollar store around the driveway and invent games to help her maneuverability and stamina.
Future Sport Opportunities??
The Unstoppable Miss T has older siblings who have been involved in rock climbing, archery, shooting sports, soccer, fencing, tennis, equestrian sports, T-ball, swimming, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and martial arts. Adapted sports make it possible for Miss T to have access to every one of these sports, and other athletic interests as she grows up!
What adaptive sports are in your neck of the woods?? Which one would your child love to try? Let's go play!