Making sport accessible

Sporting independence helped by gripping aids and equipment adjustments.

Guest Blog

Clare Reynolds. Active Hands

This is the story of Rebecca, shared to encourage others living with impairment to enjoy sport.

Rebecca has always enjoyed working with children and graduated from college with a degree in early childhood education. In 2012 shortly after spending a year teaching in Japan, Rebecca returned home and began experiencing severe headaches. The MRI showed the brain tumour she had as a child had returned and she would require a second brain surgery and radiation. The surgery and radiation left her partially blind in her right eye and partially paralysed in her right leg and arm.

Rebecca has always loved sports and outdoor activities. She was a keen soccer player as a child. She ran her first road race aged 12 and was a keen cross country runner, placed in the top 20 in the National Junior Olympic competition and earned all state honours three times in her high school. But Rebecca’s greatest love is water skiing. She first learned to ski around age six and over the years graduated from two skis to one and finally bare foot.

Naturally following her surgery, Rebecca was keen to return to her sporty lifestyle.

Rebecca joined the YMCA Live Strong Programme that helps to rehabilitate people recovering from cancer. The target was to work on strengthening her right-hand side. 

Rebecca also began riding her bike in the Pan Mass Challenge to raise money for the Jimmy Fund: a national organisation that raises money for kids fighting cancer. Over a two-year period she raised over $24,000.

Sporting independance helped by griping aids

As Rebecca did not have enough gripping strength her parents had to hold her hand onto the different exercise equipment. This did not go down well with Rebecca who was used to her independence.

Rebecca’s mother came across Active Hands while searching the web for equipment that might help her daughter to carry on with her sport but with the independence Rebecca demanded. The gripping aids help Rebecca in the gym as she trains to get stronger.

Equipment adjustments

Rebecca’s water-skis are fitted with a specially adapted system. She is attached to the training pole by her Active Hand gripping aid, a mountain climbing harness attached via a heavy duty karabiner and a cord: providing her with a three-point connection. This protects her from an uncontrolled fall yet still gives her the responsibility for controlling the ski.

Mark, Rebecca’s father says: “Rebecca is now empowered to ski. Her participation in sport gives her independence and control to compete and pursue her goal. All of this is helped by simple gripping aids and equipment adjustments”.

Rebecca also uses her Active Hands gripping aids with her specially designed bike.

The team here at Active Hands hope that she can use it to try other activities that our customers have told us about such as climbing or off-road riding. Our own Rob Smith designed Active Hands for just this reason.

You can discover more about our gripping aids on the RUS Shop