Rehab Sports – sportingly independent

(Photo: marymccraft /

Sport can be more than just a hobby. If correctly targeted sport can also be an effective means of rehabilitation. Sport is an integral part of rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Association.

Heinz Frei, head of youth wheelchair sports Switzerland from the Swiss Paraplegic Association speaks to MyHandicap about the range of possibilities available. Frei is one of the most successful wheelchair athletes in the world. A multitude of World Championship titles, Olympic victories and world records in athletics underpin his expertise in disability sport.

Sport as Therapy

In the aftermath of an accident or an illness which leads to disability, the development of strength and endurance in the physiotherapy and strength room is in the foreground. Maximum individual independence, the main objective of the rehabilitation is achieved by training and developing the patients remaining capabilities. "This objective is essentially achieved through sporting activities, whereby sports are practiced where new skills are learned and which push patients to their limits," explains Frei to MyHandicap.

For example, table tennis is a very good exercise to practice keeping ones balance in the seat and to automatically get used to holding the handles. Or Archery: Secure balance is essential here to be able to shoot the arrow correctly.

Living actively

Further sporting activities are possible once the wheelchair user has become better accustomed to the wheelchair through the initial sporting activities. Whoever has the urge could for example purchase a handbike to train with. With a handbike wheelchair users can soon accompany their friends and relatives on cycling tours. The same applies for a monoski-bob in winter, where the people with disabilities can ski down the snowy slopes with their friends and families. As well as the positive benefit on the level of fitness and independence, the patients also have the opportunity to actively participate in social life.

If you have now reached a certain level of basic fitness and have discovered your passion for wheelchair sports, then the Swiss Paraplegic Association is a good contact for you. All sports that are on offer are listed on the website of Wheelchair Sports Switzerland from the Paraplegic Association. In addition, the association organises various camps for young athletes and holds sports courses for all levels.

Who does what?

Different sports come into consideration, depending on the nature and severity of the disability. Which sport is best suited for whom, can be researched in our articles, or you can ask directly by the various sports associations. The following applies: proof of the pudding is in the eating. What is important is that the sport is fun. Because only then, is progress in the rehabilitation possible.

You can find a selection of possible sports listed here:

Underwater world while diving with Monica Wenninger (photo: Monika Wenninger)

Alpine skiing
Nordic skiing
Table tennis
E-Hockey (Electro-Hockey in E-wheelchairs for severely disabled)

Author: hia.
Translation: PmcC
Photos:, Monika Wenninger