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Freedom Through Movement
By Kate Shuman, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 2)  

Caregivers are the diligent keepers of a flame called hope. For every activity that their loved one may feel they can no longer do because of physical limitations and mobility problems, the caregiver still sees incredible potential for new adventures in the areas of physical activities and enjoyment of sports. Just because someone may have mobility problems doesn’t mean that they can no longer enjoy the things they once did, it just means that some things need to be approached in a slightly different manner. Yielding to some of the wonderful innovations that have been created to help modify mobility equipment for outdoor activities can help open a door once thought to be closed forever.  

As a caregiver for someone who may be confined to a wheelchair or who has other mobility issues, much relies upon you to help bring your loved one gradually back into the physical world. Sometimes starting with the most simple of physical activities can really make a difference in your loved one’s attitude and confidence level. A good activity to begin with is hiking in one of our country’s many national parks. At least 50 of these parks have created hiking paths that are accessible to everyone, especially to those in wheelchairs. Before going on a hike, research the area that you and your loved one would like to explore. Make sure that any possible accessibility issues are discussed with the park personal ahead of time, to insure a positive experience for both you and your loved one.

There are also many benefits, both physical and psychological, to getting out into the great outdoors. Regular hikes and walks will help make physical improvements, such as strengthening the heart and lungs, along with making other muscles stronger. All of this can lead to improvements of circulation, flexibility and limberness, better balance and range of motion, sharpened senses, improved endurance and coordination, as well as better weight management. Along with all of the physical improvements comes a more positive outlook on life for your loved one. You can also become more positive because of helping your loved one face their disability as a challenge rather than impossibility. Just think, something as simple as a hike or walk can help give your loved one a feeling of empowerment and a sense of accomplishment. But why stop with just a hike or walk? Your loved one may want to pursue new adventures on the ski slopes or revisit an old favorite like diving. With so many technological advancements made to improve mobility equipment, there is an endless sea of adaptable gadgets that can make just about any sport or hobby possible.

Some of the more common activities caregivers and their loved ones can enjoy include: archery, fishing, golf, bowling, working out, hang gliding, swimming, aeronautics, gardening, crafts (needle point, knitting, tapestry, painting, wood work), travel, basketball, hockey, fencing, yachting, cycling (handcycling), canoeing... and the list goes on. Caregivers and their loved ones can enjoy many of the things they always did together, and perhaps take on some new hobbies and adventures as well.

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