Best and Most Effective Exercise for Those Labeled "Disabled"

A swing built for wheelchair access playground swing in the Taupo Domain, Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand.
A swing built for wheelchair access playground swing in the Taupo Domain, Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand. | Source

A Continuum of Workouts

The world of martial arts is not a cure-all, but in the pertinent format and schedule, it can help lessen the negative effects of a range of physical and emotional/psychological conditions. This is true for a range of abilities among people covering a wide age span. The training, experience, and other education of the class instructors play a part in the extent to which martial arts practice helps students in these ways; and time, even years, is necessary for some improvements -- one should not jump into just any class and expect a miracle the first day. Other sports and physical activities may say the same. My view is that there is appropriate physical activity for everyone - our local Heinzerling Foundation provides passive exercise for the profoundly retarded among their patients, the same type of exercises administered to coma patients, those in vegetative states, and to (surviving) infants as soon as they are born in large regions of China. Exercise stimulates brain function, which stimulates body function, etc.

No matter what physical or mental condition possessed by a person, that being is still a person. He or she can usually exercise as is appropriate to current limitations, with help if necessary. Recently, I have heard an opinion that no preventive or treatment measures should be investigated for Muscular Dystrophy or Alzheimer's diease. In view of current medical advancements being achieved month by month, I cannot accept this. It is my professional opinion that no person, because of physical or mental condition, be sentenced to lifelong immobility by individuals or groups that feel it a waste of resources to provide these human beings with physical activity, stimulating mental activity, food, water, or air.

I recently read about a campaign to amass support for the notion that the "disabled" don't want any improvement in their conditions. Accepting individuals for themselves is a laudable goal. Telling them (or not telling them and simply ignoring them) that nothing can be done for them if they want some improvement is not.

Sometimes It's a Miracle

One middle school student came to us with a developmental delay, some social awkwardness, and a bone and joint condition that caused chronically bent knees and toe walking with heels in the air. We'd been informed that physical therapists said there was nothing more they could do. Perhaps the insurance cap had been reached, but this I do not know.

The 30 minutes of stretching at the beginning of each 2-hour class, 2-3 times per week, helped relieve the leg and foot conditions as did the stride lengthening drills I gave to increase distance covered by each kick executed. The student remained under medical supervision. In the end, This person was able walk with a heel-to-toe stride, run, to play middle- and high school football, and to graduate from college.

In another aspect, perhaps those that do not want to exercise should not be forced to do so. In the case of an adult at the end stage of life, one who wishes no further treatment or any heroic measures be taken to resuscitate that person in case of death - passive exercise could be torture. A massage might or might not be torture; it is the choice of that adult to participate or not and that wish should be respected.

One Man's Opinion - Wait for the Ending. 41 seconds.

K-12 Exercise

However, I believe that physical activity should be required in all grades Pre-K through 12. It should also be enjoyable. Unfortunately, some families use exercises only as punishment and connect them to negative experiences. Others insist that children sit in one place, on the computer, with a video game, or doing nothing. However, if a child is sedentary for the most part before age 5, it's difficult to instill exercise and physical activity later on. Up until the mid- 1990s, public opinion polls i reviewed for public health classes showed that the majority of Americans believed that men should not exercise after high school and women should never exercise at all... All the while, China had been passively exercising infants for centuries and ensuring physical activity that included sports, exercise, and dance as soon as the children could walk - and continuing regular physical activity throughout adult life, nearly to the deathbed.

My position is that if someone comes to me for help in improving a physical or developmental disability, I'll apply all my abilities to help them improve, if it is possible. Regardless, I advise anyone with a medical physical condition or developmental delay, with family support and guidance as needed, to consult with health and medical practitioners, and then with well trained sports and exercise professionals.

Chinese Event - Long Jump

Muscle Diseases

Sister Elizabeth Kenny is respected as the Australian nurse that discovered that warm wrapped around the limbs of polio ("infantile paralysis") victims in the early stages of the disease actually prevented paralysis. She died at the age of 72 after a long life's work of convincing medical and lay unbelievers that children with polio need not become disabled by it. She is buried at Nobby cemetery, Clifton Shire, Queensland, Australia.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has discovered effective treatments for some types of disabling diseases and continues their efforts with help corporate and individual donations.

Content where I am, also hoping to improve.

— Chinese Proverb

Sister Elizabeth Kenny Memorial

Not everyone will leave behind the chair, but some will.
Not everyone will leave behind the chair, but some will.

Paralympics is Prescribed Rehabilitation to Some Disabled Persons

Far West Disabled Sports

Head Trauma Rehabilitation

Special Olympics in BC

What Improvement Do you Want?

The major goal of my martial arts instruction has always been to help people find a healthier way of life, in whatever are they wish to improve. Fortunately, training in preventive medicine, public health, and psychological evaluation and treatments have worked well with this goal.

Some students want to gain strength and to compete in martial arts competitions, others use the training preparatory to US Armed Forces boot camp or basketball, soccer, or football team play. Certain students have enrolled in classes in order to boost their immune systems. One individual combined the activity with dietary changes and escaped from the ravages of rheumatoid arthritis - completely cleared up and not to be found on any x-ray or symptoms. The martial training helped in part to allow a small group of students in special education over the years to leave that behind for the mainstream classroom. Some students have been able to leave their wheelchairs behind, while others have been able to improve cognitive and behavioral functioning to a point at which their physicians remove them from medications for such conditions as ADD/ADHD.

An autistic, non-speaking child began to talk during our classes, because of the repeated call and response in drills that created some new cognitive connection for him. In brain research at OSU and the rehabilitation section, head trauma unit, of BWC it was found that the bran continues to develop and heal (although sometimes very slowly) throughout the lifespan. Even over-40s continue to experience the growth of white matter. In and out of the world of martial arts and whole-body exercise, I've seen an autistic child lose all symptoms and behaviors of autism the last as a senior in high school. An accountant with a closed head trauma, through a course of relaxation and meditation, regained the ability to calculate and to use numbers and statistics. Pain can be lessened, medication levels can be reduced. Even a person with profound retardation or coma that is passively exercised can experience more efficient bodily use of medications, which can result in lower dosages and in some cases, say the kidneys or liver.

In Chicago, Korean marital arts masters gained permission to go into the nursing homes and work with senor citizens. Beginning with simple finger movements while seated in chairs and wheelchairs, the individuals after several sessions were able to begin to move arthritic joints. Then they cold make fists and punch, seated. They could kick while seated. At the end of weeks and months, some were able to arise and perform basic movements, punch, kick, and gains strength, even in their 80s and 90s. Within each category of the "disabled" are individual that can and want to be helped. Perhaps there are more than we think exist.

For anyone that has a disability and wants to exercise or participate in a sport, consult your doctor, nurse practitioner, or whichever provider you see and then consult the experienced professionals trained well to instruct you in some physical activities. Be reasonable, start slowly, set realistic goals, don't place excessive demands upon yourself and rejoice in each small change for the better. Even if you don't see changes, others may, and if not, you can still have a good time participating in an activity - a change in itself and the effort is not lost. Be encouraged.

A Severe Disability Responding to Treatment

  • The above video on Youtube uploaded by davidfreels in 2007 shows the additional improvement from head injury suffered in the Iraq War after rehab was supplemented by Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). The man in this video progresses from almost non-responsive to walking on his own. Dr. Paul Harch, MD of New Orleans offers a webpage at http://www.hyperbarics.org. Security cost coverages for more veterans for effective HBOT is a priority for Dr. Harch.

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Comments 14 comments

naiza1986 6 years ago

This is very nice information you got here for people with disabilities. I enjoyed reading it! I'll be trying some easy exercise like you mentioned here. =)


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

Wow, this is a dynamite hub. Researched and written beautifully. I've probably been on here watching the videos for a good 20 minutes or so.

I had never heard of "Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)." I found this truly amazing. I followed your link to read more about (HBOT) and saw that a study is being conducted on Hyperbaric Treatment for TBI & PTSD. I was so thrilled to see this.

I have worked in rehab centers and have seen many miracles with the modernization of prosthesis.

Well done! a truly inspiring hub,

Sage


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

I have found gentle stretching and feldenkrais exercise very useful when unable to workout due to disability and injury. loved this hub!


Marta 6 years ago

Some of the most inspiring stories in here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for a wonderful hub.


fishtiger58 profile image

fishtiger58 6 years ago from Momence, Illinois

I am stunned and amazed by Curt Allens progress. I hope this treatment is being tried on more people. Great and interesting hub.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

@naiza1986 - Inspiring, isn't it? It causes me to accept the fact that in medicine, docs usually have to tell patietns the average range of possibilities, but that we all can move beyond that, with openness and hope. Curt Allens, Heath Calhoun, Tynan Ronan (who will likely sing on PBS tonight Happy St. Patrick's Day!), and all the rest are incredible examples.

@Sage - I am entranced by these videos as well. And, HBOT is finding new applications every year; I was fortunate to help write study cards for HBOT certifications a few years back and learned a lot -- HBOT has a long history and I'm glad you're reading about it. To be able to help severely damaged veterans and others is a miracle.

@earnestshub - That's a wonderful example, maybe others will begin stretching today. A stretching Group I did for 6 weeks lost a pound a week just from stretching.

@Marta - If we feel discouraged, we can read about them again and be uplifted. Thanks for writing!

@Hello, hello - Thanks for visiting this Hub; I'm always glad to see your comments.

@fishtiger58 - Awesome! - All vets that need it should have access to this treatment - so much improvement and cost savings in preventing long-term care for those in almost vegetative states! I ope more people get to know about this. Thanks for posting!


JenDobson27 profile image

JenDobson27 6 years ago

Great information! I really found this hub to be very inspiring, and I enjoyed reading it.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Patty, This is such a rewarding hub to read. I was so touched by that first video. The difference made in one person is amazing. Thanks for a wonderful hub.


cashmere profile image

cashmere 6 years ago from India

Truly inspiring. And those of us in better health should be grateful for it.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Jen, Pamela and cashmere - Thanks for reading; I'm still watching the videos myself. Heath Calhoun's attitude is overwhelming; he has legs, just a different kind. Thanks again.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

O Patty.! This was so touching and encouraging. You have such a strong, fighting spirit, yourself. I can't imagine you 'giving up' on anyone.

Thank you so much for this.x


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thank you, Dim Flaxenwick - anywone that wants help, should get it and everyone has some type of talent. This is well known. :)


Diane 6 years ago

I have a physical disability & tend to never get outside, so I'm looking for simple exercise to lose weight & to strenghthen my legs

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