These wheelchairs are sporty types
Dr Ludwig Guttmann was one of the leading pre-World War II neurologists in Germany. He fled to England in 1939 and in 1944 was asked by the British government to found the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, near Aylesbury. He believed that sport was an essential part of the rehabilitation of his patients and used it to help build physical strength and self-esteem.
sport has come a long way since the first wheelchair games were held at Stoke Mandeville in 1948. Now wheelchair-bound athletes from all over the world take part in The Paralympics. Interestingly the name Paralympics derives from the Greek “para” (“beside” or “alongside”) and refers to a competition held in parallel with the Olympic Games – not a reference to paralysis or paraplegia. In celebration of the tie with Stoke Madeville hospital, the London 2012 Paralympic mascot, is called Mandeville and can be found on his own official Facebook page.
With the growth in popularity of wheelchair sport in general, wheelchair designers have taken advantage of modern high-strength, lightweight materials to produce a range of suped-up machines. Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers a specialist, caring service for disabled customers, takes a look at some of the companies producing these sporty wheels and suggests where to go to find more information.
Wheelpower is the first stop for anyone wanting to find out about wheelchair sports. Based at Stoke Mandeville it aims to encourage the enjoyment of a huge variety of sports for wheelchair users.
RKD Sports Wheelchairs stocks a large range of wheelchairs for all sports including archery, badminton, basketball, dancing, fencing, rugby, racing, shooting, table tennis and tennis, with prices from just £495.
Some 30 years ago Peter Carruthers set up Bromakin after he himself was confined to a wheelchair following an accident. He had difficulty finding a chair suited to his active lifestyle so began designing his own. Now Bromakin supplies wheelchairs for all types of sports.
Spokz aims to make sports wheelchairs affordable for those just starting out on their sporting journey. Its models have been designed according to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation regulations and in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation.
Although based in the USA, it is worth taking a look at Top End, which makes performance wheelchairs for a range of sports including racing, basketball, tennis and hand-cycling. The site has lots of useful information on athletes who use Top End chairs. Some models are available in the UK, including the impressive Top End 2010 Force R handbike through Bromakin.
To take sport that little bit further, Apparelyzed has a section on extreme wheelchair sports that are definitely not for the faint-hearted. There is information on four-wheel downhill mountain biking, tank chair off-road adventures and sit-skiing as well as some far out videos – one of which, on cattle prod jousting, was filmed for JackAss by some of the USA Quad Rugby team.