Exercising at Home: Adaptive Equipment

Working out at Home is convenient and inexpensive! You might just need some simple equipment to help you be more effective with each movement. 

There are several pieces of adaptive equipment that can help you perform your exercise program with greater ease. The following local organizations supply some adaptive equipment: 

Independent Living Aids, Inc.
137 Rano Street 
Buffalo, NY  14207 
(716) 332-2970

Center for Assistive Technology
315 Alberta Drive, Suite 102
Amherst, NY  14226 
(716) 836-1168

LS&S - Learning Sight & Sound
145 River Rock Dr. 
Buffalo, NY 14207 
(716) 348-3500

For more information on how to order adaptive equipment, visit: www.nchpad.org

Grasping Cuff or Activity Mitts 
Grasping cuffs can be used when grip strength or hand function is limited. Grasping cuffs are very helpful and effective for hands to grip weight machines or dumbbells. 

Wrist Cuff 
The use of nylon cuffs with a metal ring is a great way to perform resistance exercises by wearing the cuff on the residual limb. The metal ring should be strong enough to attach weighted resistance to. Depending on the length of the residual limb, you may be able to perform many strength exercises by attaching the nylon cuff with a metal ring to either resistance bands or cable resistance. Wrist cuffs can also be used for individuals with limited hand function. 

Stabilizing Straps 
For those who have difficulty with balance and stability, stabilizing straps and gait belts aid in proper seating and positioning in a wheelchair. 

Ankle and Wrist Weights 
Ankle weights and wrist weights are weighted cuffs that can be used for various strength training activities. These can be highly effective for persons using wheelchairs in terms of both upper extremity and lower extremity movements. These weighted cuffs can be secured to the body by using an adjustable Velcro strap. 

Medicine Ball 
A medicine ball is a weighted ball used during strength training. For individuals with limited hand function, a ball with a textured surface, handles, or straps should be used. 

Elastic Bands or Tubing 
Elastic bands or tubing are effective, low-cost, and portable pieces of equipment that allow exercise comparable to activities done with free weights. They provide varying degrees of resistance according to their color and can be performed virtually anywhere, whether seated or standing. To increase the resistance, you may allow less slack in the band or move it away from your anchor. Anchoring is the process of tying one end of the resistive band to a secure, fixed object. 

Things to consider prior to starting an exercise routine

**Before you begin any exercise routine, check with your doctor that the exercises are suitable for your current physical condition. This is particularly important for those who have any special health concerns. Neither WNY Independent Living nor WNY Healthy Communities Coalition are responsible for any injuries or damaged property incurred while performing the exercises in this guide.**   

The following are just a small handful of examples of health concerns that require extra examination or measurement of physical state before, during, and/or after participating in exercise.

  • Individuals with limb loss due to vascular disorders, such as diabetes or atherosclerosis, should be aware of any activity restrictions instructed by their physician. Due to the fact that exercise can reduce the need for insulin, individuals with diabetes should monitor their glucose frequently and always have a quick-acting carbohydrate fuel to treat hypoglycemia during exercise.
  • The maximal heart rate for individuals with tetraplegia (T1 and above) is typically limited to 120 to 130 beats per minute.
  • It is important to check for pressure sores before and after every workout. Specifically, check bony areas of the body, such as the elbow, shoulder blade, tailbone, hip, knee, ankle, heel, and the side of the leg pressing against the inside of your wheelchair.  Examine these areas for any redness, blisters, openings in skin, or rashes.
  • Individuals with surgically placed rods or a spinal fusion should be aware of restrictions to movement and exercises. Consult with your physician to make sure that the exercises in this guide are safe if you have one of these conditions.

Before beginning your exercises, it is important that you first perform a warm-up to prepare the muscles of the body. The warm-up can be any activity that gets you moving, such as light rolling or an aerobic activity such as cycling with an ergometer like this one.  Warm up activity should take about 5 minutes.  

It is beneficial to exercise most days of the week.  The recommended daily activity level for adults is 30 minutes a day and for 5 days a week. Start slowly if you are a beginner or if you have not exercised in a long time. If any of the exercises you perform result in pain or discomfort, stop immediately and let your physician know. 

After you complete your cardiovascular exercise and strength training routine, you should also perform a 5-10 minute cool-down, including stretching to maintain range of motion and flexibility.  The cool-down is very important to return your body to its resting state and is a great time to perform flexibility (stretching) exercises. 

While stretching, find the point where you feel a slight pull and hold. Do not bounce or try to stretch to a point at which pain is felt. You should breathe regularly. Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds and repeat.  The following section demonstrates some example stretches to do after your exercise session or just on their own to maintain your flexibility. 

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