Summer Blues: Alternatives for Summer Activities You Can No Longer Do
Not everyone feels joy from summer. For many people with spinal cord injuries, summer can be a reminder of what they can no longer do. It's not always easy having fun after a spinal cord injury. Unfortunately, most summertime activities require some kind of adaptation, and for many, these adaptations are out of reach due to costs involved, or simply because of not having anyone to help them do say activity.
But it doesn't need to be an end-game situation. More than ever before there are adaptations and modifications available to make almost any summertime activity accessible. To discover adaptive ideas for some of your favorite summertime activities, check out our article below.
Hiking is a hugely popular activity among Americans, and it is an activity many people miss after a spinal cord injury. Sure, there are accessible trails available, but those who have hiked before their injuries, miss the freedom of going anywhere.
If you have the ability, we recommend checking out state parks near you to see if they offer free Trackchair rentals. These are wheelchairs that have tracks like a tank, instead of wheels, which allow them to traverse all kinds of terrain, including non-accessible hiking trails. At Rocky Mountain National Park, they offer a manual all-terrain wheelchair known as GRIT, which is also free to use for park visitors.
If hiking is something you really love doing, however, we recommend looking into purchasing your own Trackchair which could change your life. Many people fund-raise so they can purchase one, as they are not covered by insurance.
For those who really love camping, a basic campsite won't do. Many people love to go off-trail and create their own campsites in the middle of the woods. For this activity, we recommend a Trackchair, which is one of the best and only ways to get out into the woods when there are no accessible trails available.
If you are a fan of the beach, taking a stroll on the sand is probably something you used to do. Unfortunately, wheelchairs do not roll on the sand well, especially if the sand is wet. For many, they will rent a beach wheelchair, which is one of the best and only ways to access the beach if you use a wheelchair. These can be rented across the country.
Also, at several public beaches in Southern California, and in Miami, Florida, there are free power beach wheelchairs available for rent on a first come-first serve basis. These wheelchairs for many are one of the best ways to explore the beach. They allow complete independence and can feel amazing to use.
Boating is great, but getting into a boat with paralyzed legs is not so great. For getting into a boat after a spinal cord injury, one of the best methods is a Hoyer lift or a sling lift that is made for boats.
If you don't want to leave your wheelchair, you can purchase a pontoon boat or any larger boat that has room to drive around it in your wheelchair and is low enough so a ramp can be used from the dock to the boat.
For many, they go to lake country in the summertime where beach wheelchairs are not as available. To enjoy the lake in all of its glory, including swimming, you'll need to get creative with an older wheelchair or have assistance getting carried into the water. Once you're in the water, you can be independent even if you're not able to swim by utilizing a flotation suit, like one from Project Airtime. Many quadriplegics use these to swim independently after their injury since can return a sense of freedom in the water that many miss.
If you're a fan of water slides and visiting water parks, unfortunately, most water slides have huge staircases that are not accessible. You can however still enjoy certain aspects of the water park, like the lazy river. Some people will get carried up to the water slide, but this can be a long carry and some water parks do not allow it.
No matter how many adaptations you use, the truth is that you may always miss certain summertime activities, and that’s ok. Just remember to be gentle with yourself and not let your grief overwhelm you. There are thousands of people out there who can relate to your loss. Try seeking a support group, whether online or offline, to vent your frustrations.
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Spinal Cord Team