March 1, 2012
Spinal Cord Injuries in Adapted Physical Education
Imagine what a class of third graders would look like during their PE class at school. You might see one child outrunning all of the rest in a 50-yard dash, or maybe a group of children partaking in a game of hopscotch. But what about the child in a wheelchair who suffers from a spinal cord injury? Approximately 25% of children in the public school system suffer from orthopedic impairments (“Fast Facts”). What can they do? How can they participate? How can the physical education program advance their daily dose of physical activity and improve their health? These key questions all work together to help include these children in physical education classes and to improve their quality of life. Typically, spinal cord injuries result in paralysis or incomplete paralysis of the arms, trunk, legs, or any combination of the three. Depending on the location of the damage, loss of sensation is also possible. The spinal cord and nerves are sheltered in the spinal, or vertebral column, and pass down into the segments of the spinal column. Spinal cord injury distresses the innervation of muscle, therefore, the higher up the level of injury to the spinal cord, the more limited the range of motion of the body. Individuals with spinal cord injuries are mostly indicated to be paraplegics, or tetraplegics (quadriplegics). A paraplegic is an individual that is paralyzed in his/her legs. A quadriplegic experiences paralysis in both the arms and the legs (Auxter, David). “There are 11,000 new cases of spinal cord injury in the United States every year. Fifty-five percent of spinal cord injuries occur among individuals in the 16-to-30-year age range; males outnumber females four to one (Auxter, David, 494).” “The physical education program for persons with spinal cord injury should be based on a well-rounded program of exercise for all the usable body parts, including...