Adaptive Activities for Kids with Cerebral Palsy

Being active and having fun is a wonderful escape. Sporting adventures and outdoor activities are a way for a family to be unified by spending time together doing the same fun activity. Developments in adaptive equipment have made lots of sporting activities more accessible to kids with cerebral palsy. Adaptive equipment allows kids with disabilities to be successful at sports, just like their family members and friends.

Why are adaptive activities important?

Recreational activities not only enhance a person’s life, but research shows that sports can help children with cerebral palsy and similar conditions have improved motor function and posture, as well as self confidence. Additionally, engaging in activity can help to alleviate the daily pains caused by cerebral palsy, such as:

  • Spasticity
  • Trouble regulating body temperature due to an inability to move around
  • Arthritis and
  • Back spasms

Adaptive Summer Activities

  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Rock climbing
  • Mountain programs
  • Horse riding
  • Camping
  • White water rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Hiking and viewing wildlife

What does adaptive sailing look like?

For sailing, hoists are often used to get people into and out of the boat. Sailing seats are adapted from race car bucket seats to provide back support and stability, and the seats swivel, which allows people to face different directions. Some boats even have special joysticks so that people with severe disability can operate the boat.

Adaptive Winter Activities

  • Alpine skiing (this includes mono and bi skiing, also called sit skiing)
  • Snowboarding
  • Hockey
  • Ski biking
  • Cross country skiing
  • Showshoeing
  • Snow tubing

What does adaptive skiing look like?

Adaptive skiing utilizes either a monoski or sit-ski. This consists of a molded seat on a metal frame that is interfaced with a single alpine ski.  A shock absorber beneath the seat eases jumping or riding on uneven terrain, and it helps with turning.  A forearm crutch with a short ski on the bottom is used to help with stability and steering.

Where can I find adaptive activities near me?

There may be resorts or programs near you that provide accessible sports and activities for your child with cerebral palsy. Resorts often have the most modern equipment available and their staff members are well educated in working with a variety of disabilities and are dedicated to helping each child thrive as independently as possible.

Challenge Mountain Boyne City, MI

Challenge Mountain aims to provide “adaptive programs [are] designed to promote an individual’s potential while spending time with friends and family, learning new things, and having fun!” They provide programming in every season and almost all the offerings are provided at no cost to participants. These activities provide an opportunity for children with disabilities to make new friends and have fun.

National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) Denver, CO

The mission of the NCSD is to “enhance the human spirit through therapeutic sports and recreation.” Not only does NSCD provide lots of group activities and sports teams, but they also have private lessons available if you think your child would benefit from more one-on-one attention or wants to hone their skills. They offer activities such as skiing, therapeutic horseback riding, day camps, sailing and river rafting.

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