Tagged with: accessibility exercise Healthcare Professionals inclusive Physical Activity
Passion for the Work-
When someone takes on a role as a personal fitness professional, it is because they have a passion for it. The spectrum of individuals that come into the profession is as broad as the day is long, with different expertise and different goals. As a full- time occupation dedicated to helping people make changes in their lives through guidance, support, and motivation, it requires the provider to be very giving of themselves.
As professionals, we work with a variety of clients with a range of goals and needs. When we work with a client with a disability, the role of the professional is different and varied. Forethought, preparation and insight are requisite. When a professional is faced with needs that may be beyond those of a “typical” client or the perceived “norm”, addressing the needs of a client with a disability may be challenging or fairly labor intensive. Fortunately our clients are usually goal oriented and have a certain vision. Working with clients is a privilege because typically they already have a burning desire and passion to embrace the knowledge we share for their personal improvement.
Kerry Wiley is one of my clients. Kerry has Cerebral Palsy. It has been my experience that Kerry and most other people with any disability want to improve their health and wellbeing. They want to be included, active, and participants. People with disabilities want and seek access to recreation, fitness, and other opportunities within their community. We know, however, that participation rates for people with disabilities in sports or fitness activities are lower compared to people without disabilities. Professionals can unintentionally over-estimate limitations. By and large, misconceptions continue to exist about people with disabilities.
I have had the opportunity to teach Kerry how to use muscles for function that she normally might not. Kerry has developed a means of walking over the years which only uses certain muscle groups. She has grown to depend on using these particular muscles for daily activities and functioning (e.g. using her upper body over her lower body for mobility). While a person without a disability may take for granted the motor skills they possess and how they use all of their muscles, it is very challenging to establish a neurological connection for certain movements. We are working to establish this connection for Kerry while also trying to use muscles that rarely, if ever, have been directly stimulated. As a result, these muscles are extremely tight and atrophied.
Forethought and Preparation-
When Kerry and I work together, we have to be careful not to over stimulate her muscles. If we over- stimulate her muscles, she can become spastic, (stiff or contracted), experience involuntary spasms, or have rigidity. When I plan a workout for Kerry, I have the “big picture” in mind. Since Kerry is currently dependant on walking devices, I have to think about how her outside life will affect our work. Some questions that immediately come to mind when I see Kerry’s name appear on my schedule are:
1. What is the weather and barometric pressure? Temperature changes directly affect her.
2. Has Kerry been able to fuel her body efficiently for the planned workout?
3. How much water has she had?
4. Has she been able to exercise and do her home routines?
5. What is her stress level?
6. Does anything hurt or lack in her normal mobility?
7. How much rest has she gotten?
If the answer to all of these questions is favorable and leans toward the potential of a positive workout, the next consideration is what can we focus on in session that will not disturb Kerry’s day to day function or disrupt her quality of life?
Read more about Kerry’s journey and learn more from her Personal Trainer James House III on Wednesday December 1 in Going for A Walk-Part 5.