Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bust A Move: Wheelchair Ballroom Dancing

Have you been sitting in your wheelchair watching Dancing with the Stars and yearning to sweep gracefully across the dance floor or join your friends in a night out on the town, dream no longer. Across the globe, dance studios offer people with disabilities the opportunity to learn the socially and physically beneficial activity of wheelchair dancing. If you’re a person with a competitive side, you might even find yourself competing regionally or internationally some day.

First begun in 1972, wheelchair dance integrates people with and without disabilities in a variety of dances and helps people with physical impairments restore a sense of normalcy in their lives. Depending upon your tastes, you can learn waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, slow foxtrot, quickstep and Latin-American dances like the samba, cha-cha-cha, rumba, paso doble, and jive.While any dance that progresses around a floor, such as waltz and fox trot, is easier to accomplish in a wheelchair than some of the basically stationary dances, such as the cha-cha-cha and swing, with a good teacher, patience, and persistence, any dance can be mastered.In wheelchair dancing—also known as adaptive dancing—the wheeler usually propels the wheelchair while the able-bodied dancer leads. Both partners concentrate on keeping time to the music and both take an active role in what happens on the dance floor. Other styles of dance include duo-dance, which features two wheelchair dancers together, and group dance, which includes wheelchair users and able-bodied individuals dancing in synchronized formation, as well as participating with freestyle movement to the music. Individuals with varying levels of ability in either manual or power chairs can participate.

Besides helping to build confidence and reduce the sense of social isolation that sometimes impacts wheelchair users, researchers have shown that dance offers many health benefits. Mayo Clinic researchers report that social dancing helps to reduce stress, increase energy, improve strength, increase muscle tone and coordination—especially of the arms and shoulders—and maintain flexibility. Dancing can also lower your risk of coronary heart disease, decrease blood pressure, and help you manage your weight. Other touted benefits include building and increasing stamina, developing the circulatory system, and helping release toxins via sweating. Dancing’s social aspect helps you develop strong social ties and leads to less stress, depression, and loneliness. Since dance also requires memorizing steps and working with a partner, the activity provides mental challenges that are crucial for brain health—including reducing the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Once you become competent with social dance, you might be tempted to take it to the competitive level. Competitive wheelchair dancing has been around since 1977 when the first international competition in Wheelchair Dance Sport took place. So whether you want to learn to dance for a wedding, special event or parties, to compete, or for pure pleasure, if you have the desire to dance, go ahead.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hardcore Sitting Compilation

For those who have read my previous post about Aaron Fotheringham, this is another clip demonstrating the sport that he has created. It even includes footage of his first successful wheelchair backflip that he is known for. Hopefully this will inspire others to join in and come up with more tricks to build up this extreme sport. Watch and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This is a funny clip from a Family Guy Episode where a group of people in wheelchairs form a giant robot that attacks Peter and Stewie. While it may seem offensive to some people, you have to admit that there are times where it may seem useful for us to form a giant robot to set some things right for our own good. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Adaptive Sports Guide

The disabled social-networking site, Disaboom, have created a wonderful and informative guide to adaptive sports for the summer. Ranging from water sports to cycling to even base jumping (!), this guide is a must read for those who are craving to do something other than watching TV or playing videogames. Check out the guide here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gary Karp On Disability & Intimacy

The following clip is of a lecture that was held at Sonoma State University. Gary Karp, a wheelchair user since 1973, gives his account of his experiences of handling some of the complications that can arise when you mix having a disability with intimacy. It is a very real, unfiltered, and refreshing lecture that should be really helpful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What Do You Call A Wheelchair Without Wheels?

Inspired by Katsushiro Otomo's Roujin Z, a Japanese anime depicting a future Japan where robotic nurses and aides help an aging population, engineers from a Japanese university have developed the WL-16 IV, for Waseda-Leg No.16 Refined IV, which is essentially a chair with two legs. As you can see in the clip, it has the ability to walk up and down a set of steps that would easily stop a wheelchair. I wonder how long it would be before we see chairs of this type start to become available to the public? Hopefully soon since this could provide benefits that go beyond the increase in mobility.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Power Wheelchair Testing

This clip shows what companies (in this case, Quickie) do when they do test out new powerchairs. You can see how they test chairs over various types of terrain and inclines as well as curbs. This should provide those with powerchairs some insight as to how much thought is placed when designing and testing a new powerchair.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Whirlwind Wheelchair

The following clip is of the Center for International Rehabilitation's collaboration with the Whirlwind Wheelchair to provide wheelchairs for people in war-torn wheelchairs, such as Afghanistan in this clip. The wheelchair that is being shown is specially designed for the extremely rough terrain and can be built using local materials thereby making them cheap and easy to produce. With some of the design features of this chair, it makes you wonder why some of the design aspects of this chair is not integrated into more conventional wheelchairs that are utilized in more developed nations. While the terrain may not be as rough as in areas of the Middle East and Africa, there are many places where a typical wheelchair cannot negotiate and a chair like the Whirlwind may prove superior.