Living in a complicated, modern, technologically advanced and digitally revolutionised era, we have seen the more complex devices produced to the simplest of equipments improve in quality and functionality. From IPods to Mobile phones, through to stair lifts and electric wheelchairs we have certainly made things much easier for ourselves in terms of communication, entertainment and mobility. It is no surprise that those less physical able to move around independently have seen vast improvements in mobility devices and aids.
One of the more common and still modern mobility equipments is the mobility scooter, wheel chairs and electric scooter, which is not only a device for easy manoeuvring but also a good device for playing sports. Of course, you cannot play basketball or tennis with large mobility scooters; however, you can take part in many major sporting activities using a manual wheelchair. Top Paralympics athletes have shown impressive techniques to using a wheelchair when playing things like basketball, tennis and racing.
Mobility scooters should not be mistaken with electric wheelchairs, as they are two of different equipments. The only similarity is their ability to aid in manoeuvrability, however one is used more for internal use and the other is best used outside and for long distance travelling. These are not suitable for major sports and are only used for the sole purpose of migrating from one area to another.
Mobility scooters, although used only for moving and travelling long distances, are much slower and are good for people with weak upper body strength and physical disabilities in the legs. It is useful for people to use these for low key sporting activities such as golf, that require very little in mobility strength and is a light form of exercise. High impact sports is unsuitable mobility scooter users.
Wheelchair sports has grown to a massive scale, holding Paralympics sporting competitions and seeing wheelchair basketball champions begin to steal the limelight of world sports. The first wheelchair basketball game was founded in the USA of 1944, which was taken part by World War II veterans. This then spread across the globe with thousands of people taking part and spotting. This was also very quickly incorporated with the Paralympics, which was established at the same time by Ludwig Guttmann in England.
Wheelchair tennis was a sport that developed also in the USA and was founded around the late 1970s. This was not an easy development and required much more experimenting with optimising the wheelchair with playing tennis. The founder of wheelchair tennis was a young man named Brad Parks, who upon making a warm up jump on acrobatic skiing, injured himself and was made paraplegic.
Being a wheelchair user he experimented with playing tennis from his wheelchair upon hearing that athlete Jeff Minnenbraker had been playing tennis from a wheelchair. This sparked a strong interest for Parks and on his next rehabilitation session coincidently his therapist was Minnenbraker. They discussed playing tennis and this ensued with Minnenbraker providing Parks with tennis lessons. It became quickly obvious to Parks that a lightweight wheelchair was needed to play tennis and so they began developing design ideas.
Though this was a process, which took time, it soon gained much popularity and attracted fellow wheelchair users to take part. Eventually this became a global activity with the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis being founded in 1980. Since then this has become a popular sporting event, with competitions held every year. The International Wheelchair Tennis Federation was founded in 1989 with Brad Parks as the President of the project.
Sporting events such as these have made it possible for people with physical disabilities to feel more in control and independent.
Anna Stenning is an expert on mobility scooters, having helped people buy the right scooter and helped out in wheelchair sporting events.