Exercise participation and adaptability of equipment may be limited depending on the level of function an individual may have. Trying to find a facility with the support and equipment necessary to carry out an effective exercise program may also be difficult especially with a spinal cord injury but this hasn’t stopped one determined young man. Since incurring his cervical spinal cord injury ten years ago, he has continued working out on average four to five days a week.
What activities/sport/exercise do you do?
I use my home gym to do resistance training, a form of exercise that improves muscular strength and endurance, four to five days a week. I follow a home program and perform resistance weight lifting exercises such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, and triceps extensions for about twenty or thirty minutes. I do the repetitions eight to ten times, depending on how I feel. It gets my blood pumping, gets my heart rate up a little bit, and it definitely relaxes my muscles.
The “Uppertone Gym” is a piece of equipment adapted for individuals in wheelchairs with limited fine motor movement. eg. cervical spinal cord injury.
Functional electrical stimulation (FES)
After his resistsance sworkout, Brian applies FES pads on his abdominal. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) applied via electrodes is a common rehabilitation technique for assisting people with central nervous system lesions.
For individuals who have experienced muscle loss from an injury, disability, or long period of immobility, electro muscle stimulation may be used to increase blood circulation and range of motion in a muscle. Muscles are gently contracted using electrical current transmitted via electrodes placed on the skin. FES provide control signals to peripheral motor systems that are compromised after a central nervous system lesion (stroke, spinal cord injury, etc.).
An effective base of support through a series of trunk balance exercises’ is essential to enable a person with mobility limitations to perform tasks such as pressure relief and transfers with greater ease and independence. Sitting unsupported can also be an effective way of working trunk balance and other balance work like sitting at the edge of the bed can improve core strength.
Once resistance and fes training is complete, Brian completes 30minutes standing in his standing frame like below. A standing frame, which fully supports me in a standing, upright position, is helpful in enhancing proper posture and in strengthening leg muscles. Therapeutic standing is also beneficial in preventing muscle wasting (atrophy), maintaining joint integrity and in promoting circulation.
I have noticed a reduction of spasticity also in my legs and in the promotion of a general sense of well being since I began using the frame several years ago.
What do you enjoy about being physically active?
The ability to move freely to and from places is often taken for granted. For myself who has sustained a spinal cord injury maintaining every aspect of mobility is vital to sustaining independence. I try to do some pushing outside to improve my pushing power and increase my independence. I enjoy doing physical therapy as I keeps me active and also healthy plus it keeps my mind active. I think there are many facets to wellness. Staying well involves a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is one vital component which if properly carried out can enhance the functional capacity of an individual living with a disability. It also promotes my self-esteem and well being. It’s not a night on the town, but playing sports or being at a gym with friends can provide great social support, as well as a great physical workout.
What makes participating in sport/physical activity difficult?
My level of function and the adaptability of equipment makes exercise participation limited. The truth is, regardless of your age, current physical condition, and whether you’ve exercised in the past or not, there are plenty of ways to overcome your mobility issues and reap the physical, mental, and emotional rewards of exercise. Mobility issues inevitably make some types of exercise easier than others, but no matter your physical situation, it’s important to remember that any type of exercise will offer health benefits.
What would make participating in sport/physical activity easier for you?
More adapted gym facilities and access to work out programmes.