In addition to defending our country, we have our veterans to thank for showing us the benefits of exercise, even with the loss of leg function. Dating back to World War II, veteran’s inspired us with the continual desire to pursue competition in sport with the beginning of organized wheelchair basketball. Teams were first formed in the Veterans Administration Hospitals, which has evolved to form the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. Because of increasing involvement in sports participation, paraplegics are now approaching the life expectancy of those without paralysis. Competition now includes other individual and team sports for canoeing to soccer. Name a sport and there is an alternative program for it.

Medical Benefits of Disabled Sports
  • Reduced Cholesterol
  • Improved strength and endurance
  • Reduced pain
  • Better diabetes control
  • Better mood
  • Development of new relationships

 Risks of Disabled Sports Participation

  • Increased arm and shoulder injuries
  • Increased risk of autonomic dysreflexia
  • Increased fracture risk with aggressive sports

The medical benefits of exercise are important for the overall health of a paraplegic. While there are risks to exercise, keeping your doctor’s appointments, maintaining the strength of your arms and shoulders with resistance training and taking care of injuries will keep you safe.

Learn about ways to exercise with leg weakness or paralysis.

Resources for Competitive Sports:

Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports, USA
Xtreme Wheelchair Sports
American Wheelchair Bowling Association
Paralympic Games
Outdoor Sports and Leisure
U.S. Handcycling
Sport Wheelchairs

Reference Sports Participation by Paraplegics