Summertime Activities for People with Spinal Cord Injuries


Written by Mackenzie Saunders:

Summer is a great time for participating in outdoor activities. Unfortunately, many common summertime activities are not accessible for those who have sustained spinal cord injuries. Paraplegia and quadriplegia—impairments in the two lower extremities and all four extremities, respectively—often limit one’s ability to partake in physical, outdoor activities. However, sustaining a spinal cord injury does not eliminate your chances of having summertime fun; there are many accessible summertime activities available across the country for both paraplegics and quadriplegics.

Accessible Activities for Paraplegics

Three accessible summertime activities for paraplegics across the United States are wheelchair basketball, swimming, and kayaking. Wheelchair basketball is a staple in adaptive sports; as one of the most common accessible recreational activities, wheelchair basketball gives paraplegics a chance to gain great cardiovascular exercise while partaking in a competitive team activity. Wheelchair basketball is available through a number of recreation centers and disability sports organizations across the nation.

Another accessible summertime activity for those with paraplegia is swimming. With the increasing availability of pool lifts across the country, paraplegics are being granted the opportunity to complete a safe transfer into the pool, where they can use their arms to swim and build endurance, muscle, and cardiovascular strength. Swimming can be a leisurely activity or a competitive sport; from those who are seeking a relaxing summertime activity to those who want a taste of adrenaline and competition, swimming is a great outdoor activity for paraplegics in the summer. Paraplegics can enjoy the leisure of summertime swimming with a public pool that has a pool lift, and they can also enjoy the fun of competition by joining a swim team. Adaptive swim teams are widely available across the nation.

A third accessible summertime activity is kayaking. Kayaking is a recreational activity that requires only arm strength and takes place on the water. Kayaking, like wheelchair basketball and swimming, is a great source of cardiovascular exercise. Because kayaking does not require many modifications for paraplegics to participate, kayaking is widely available across the country. Paraplegics can participate in kayaking in any place where kayak rental is available; if you are considering kayaking, make sure to have a plan when it comes to transferring into and out of the kayak. Kayaking can be for recreation or for competition; although less common than competitive wheelchair basketball and swimming, competitive kayaking takes place around the United States.

Accessible Activities for Quadriplegics

Paraplegics are not the only people with spinal cord injuries that can enjoy summertime activities. There are several options for outdoor recreation for quadriplegics. Three of these accessible activities are handcycling, skydiving, and power soccer.

Adaptive handcycling is a great source of cardiovascular exercise, where paraplegics can enjoy time outdoors while receiving a substantial workout. Bicep and/or shoulder function is required for riding a handcycle; adaptive handles are available to provide a better grip for those with limited hand function. Handcycles can be expensive, but many quadriplegics who have purchase handcycles have received great value from their purchase through increased physical activity. If you have sustained a spinal cord injury that has caused complete paralysis in all four extremities, other accessible summertime activities may be better suit you.

Another outdoor activity that quadriplegics can participate in is skydiving. Among recent years, indoor and outdoor skydiving has become increasingly popular among quadriplegics. There are many indoor and outdoor skydiving facilities across the nation that offer accommodations for those with quadriplegia. By skydiving tandem—being strapped to another person while falling—quadriplegics have the opportunity to experience a once-in-a-lifetime adrenaline rush with incredible views of the scenery around them.

A third accessible summertime activity for quadriplegics is power soccer. In power soccer, individuals in power chairs play a game of soccer with specialized metal plates that serve to “kick” the ball. Not only is power soccer a fun way to spend your time, but there are also competitive leagues across the United States where people in power chairs can participate in an exciting, competitive team sport. Although less common than handcycles and adaptive skydiving, power soccer leagues can be found in many states across the nation. The United States Power Soccer Association has competitive and recreation leagues in various states; visit the United States Power Soccer Association website to see if the organization has a league near you.

Those who have sustained spinal cord injuries have many opportunities for accessible summertime fun. Paraplegics and quadriplegics alike have the chance to participate in both recreational and competitive activities. Whether it is through wheelchair basketball, kayaking, or skydiving, people with spinal cord injuries across the nation are increasingly enjoying their summers through exciting and enjoyable summertime activities.

Let Us Be A Resource for You!

At The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm, we are committed to fighting for justice for people who have sustained a spinal cord injury.  However, we live life with spinal cord injuries too and love the opportunity to provide mentoring and resources for individuals and their families following a spinal cord injury.  Please contact us today to discuss how we can help point you to the many, amazing resources out there for people with SCIs!  1-877-SCI-FIRM or