Top 10 Tech Tools to Improve Exercising for Wheelchair Users

Top 10 Tech to Improve Exercising with a Spinal Cord Injury

Exercise, but more importantly being aware of your specific health, is easier than ever as a wheelchair-user thanks to awesome new tech tools that now exist.

From fitness tracking watches and apps to technology enhanced exercise products, the only problem you may run into when using tech to stay in shape is deciding which technology is best for you.

Below is an overview of some of the most popular tech products being used by wheelchair-users.


10. Apple Watch

For fans of Apple products, the Apple Watch is probably one of the best ways to track your fitness.

It has fitness algorithms and sensors that can track your pushes instead of your steps. It can also register different types of pushes, speeds and terrains and you can even input a "Roll Goal" to try to hit the target goal for the day for pushes.

The watch also has a "Workout app" that has two workout options: outdoor push walking pace for indoor push running pace.

When you turn on one of these workouts through the app, sensors are activated to begin tracking your movements. Both workouts will measure your time, pace, distance, calories burned and heart rate.

9. MyoCycle

For people with paralysis, one of the most exciting advancements in exercise technology is functional electrical stimulation also known as FES.

This technology utilizes electricity and strategically placed electrodes on paralyzed muscle groups to activate the muscles in a certain pattern to move them.

The MyoCycle Home is one of the best products that utilizes this technology.

The device includes a LED screen and a FES-powered leg cycle and has the capability to move your legs and track your heart rate.

It can also switch between two different gaits - walking gait and cycling gait. Simply pull up to the cycle in your wheelchair and strap in to use it.

8. Wheel with Me App

Created by disability influencer Jesi Stracham, a paraplegic from North Carolina, the Wheel with Me app is the first exercise app created specifically for wheelchair-users; not just the elderly.

It contains dozens of adaptive workouts that are aimed to help improve fitness, independence and confidence and it has healthy recipes and a community to help you reach your fitness goals and support you along the way.

It also contains quick workouts, such as 5 minute stretches, and it will tell you the various equipment you may need. You’ll also find monthly challenges, floor-based workouts and daily inspiration posts.

7. Garmin Fitness Tracking Band

For fans of the brand Garmin, you should check out the Garmin Fitness Tracking Band. This watch-like device is worn on the wrist as well and has a "Wheelchair Mode" that can track your movements vs. steps.

It also offers wheelchair-based activities and challenges and has the capability to input weight shift time-alerts that can go off throughout the day to remind you to shift your weight to avoid pressure sores.

The Garmin Fitness Tracking Band can also track such things as energy expenditure estimates, intensity tracking during your exercises and your physiological state for all-day stress tracking. Unfortunately, the app is not useable for those who use power wheelchairs.

6. SmartDrive PushTracker

For users of the power assist device for manual wheelchairs known as SmartDrive, which is a powered wheel that's clamped to the back of the wheelchair, you already may be familiar with SmartDrive's PushTracker.

The PushTracker is a device you wear on your wrist that lets you control the wheel. It also has an app of the same name that can track and display your daily activity, including your push count, coast time and more. This app is made for manual wheelchair-users only.

With the PushTracker app, you can also record your journeys throughout the day, and it can help you set mobility goals to improve your health.

And if you don't like wearing things on your wrist, you can use SpeedControl, a device that’s fixed to a wheelchair using SmartDrive and it can track your movements.

5. E3 Smartwatch

For more fitness tracking technology, check out Mobvoi’s TicWatch E3 Smartwatch. The company Mobovi has partnered with wheelchair manufacturer Permobil to help make their TicWatch E3 usable for wheelchair-users.

It has the capability of controlling the SmartDrive power wheel (as mentioned above). It also performs all of the fitness tracking functions you need as a wheelchair-user and it can monitor your bio signals, including your heart rate and blood oxygen levels. It also has sleep tracking capabilities.

4. BerkelBike Pro

If you want to take your workout out on the open road, you can't do any better than the FES-powered Berkel Bike; a handcycle for people with disabilities.

This high tech handcycle has electrodes built into the bike shorts that must be worn by the user when using the handcycle.

A sensor in the front wheel of the handcycle will transmit the exact pedal position to a computer, that then sends signals to the specific muscles that need to be stimulated to make a cycling movement.

You can also remove the FES component from the handcycle and use it as a stand-alone stimulator to stimulate your back and abdominal muscles from bed.

3. ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton

Now fully covered by Medicare, the ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton is a game changer for millions of people with paralysis.

Although only usable by people who can use crutches, mainly people who are paraplegics, this exoskeleton allows people to stand up and walk in their own homes and out in the community which is life-changing.

Using an exoskeleton on a daily basis can help with dozens of health problems from improving cardio health and bone density. Most quadriplegics are unable to use this device, as full hand mobility and some trunk function is needed to use the exoskeleton.

2. SCI Health Toolkit

For those who use iPhones, you have access to an app made specifically for people with spinal cord injuries called SCI Health Toolkit. Developed by Royal Rehab in Australia and the University of Sydney, this app can help people with spinal cord injuries stay healthy by providing various tracking tools and health checks such as trackers that monitor fluid intake, mental health, exercise habits, bowel habits and pain. You can even export your health data so you can share it with medical professionals.

1. Everybody Fitness

Online based workouts for wheelchair-users are available from Everybody Fitness, a site dedicated to wheelchair workouts.

The site provides various workout videos that are targeted for people of all abilities with categories like Fitness/Strength, Balance/Mobility, Boot Camp and Somasense Yoga.

When you join the site, you'll have access to hundreds of workout videos and live fitness classes that are targeted for all abilities, such as their popular FAST Class that offers wheelchair-users a new adaptive exercise experience weekly.

Technology is truly making exercising as a wheelchair-user more exciting and powerful than ever before. We can't wait to see what’s in store next in this emerging industry.

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