Outdoor recreation is intended for everyone, and can be enormously beneficial for persons with disabilities. I am in awe of disabled skiers, climbers, divers, and others who have learned to coordinate their bodies and take great enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment from their wilderness activities.
It behooves everyone in the healthcare profession to be aware of certain special medical concerns for persons who are disabled physically or emotionally. Additionally, family members and friends are often well aware of what they can do to help in providing a joint effort to support the disabled.
At the 2010 Wilderness Medical Society annual meeting in Snowmass, Colorado, JenFu Cheng, MD (a pediatric rehabilitation specialist from NJ), gave a wonderful presentation on the medical aspects of (scuba) diving with a disability. He pointed out that there may be up to nine million certified recreational scuba divers in the United States alone. His presentation, rather than focusing on persons who are fully capable physically and emotionally, examined the lesser-known benefits of being in the water for individuals in need of additional support. For instance, aqua therapy (largely enacted in swimming pools) takes advantage of the buoyancy of water to allow a range of mobility that is not possible on land. For example, aquatic exercise has been shown to improve lung capacity and mobility skills in children with cerebral palsy. Read more »